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Each word includes the standard Merriam-Webster definition and a link to an example that demonstrates the word.

Boycott: to engage in a concerted refusal to have dealings with or do business with a person, store, organization to express disappointment or force a change in conditions.
In 1953, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, one of the first documented bus boycotts happened when the black citizens boycotted the bus system for eight days. Historians believed that this boycott inspired the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Civil Disobedience: During the Civil Rights Movement, civil disobedience was one of the primary methods of nonviolent resistance that was used to challenge racism and legalized segregation. It is an active refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands that support the accepted political and social system. In April 1963, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) organized the Birmingham Campaign to protest racism and racial segregation. After being arrested and in response to a letter from white clergyman who suggested that outside leaders should not be involved in events happening in Birmingham, Dr. King, with the help of Rev. Wyatt T. Walker, released his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”,29307,1887394,00.html

Civil Liberties vs. Civil Rights: Often confused, our civil liberties and our civil rights are built upon one another but are not the same thing. Our civil liberties grant us freedom from arbitrary governmental interference, specifically by denial of governmental power and in the United States especially as guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. Our civil rights are the rights of personal liberty guaranteed to United States citizens by amendments to the Constitution and by acts of Congress, for example, the 13th Amendment abolished slavery and the 14th Amendment provides equal protection under the law

Civil Rights Act of 1964: It is the nation’s benchmark civil rights legislation that prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin and effectively ended the system of legalized segregation that had been in place since the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson case. Although President John F. Kennedy initially proposed the Act during the summer of 1963, it was actually pushed through Congress and signed into law by President Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Civil Rights Movement: From 1954-1972, the modern Civil Rights Movement was a national political and social movement, designed to challenge and change the American system of legalized segregation. Using nonviolent forms of resistance, the campaign took places in various cities throughout the South, in social and public spaces, and in the courtroom.

Desegregate: to eliminate segregation in any law, provision, or practice requiring isolation of the members of a particular race in separate units. In 1954, after a series of unsuccessful challenges to the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson case, the United States Supreme Court (USSC) ruled that the legalized system of segregation in the school system was inherently unequal. One year later, the Court ruled that schools needed to integrate “with all deliberate speed.”

Racial Discrimination: the act of treating someone, an employee, an applicant, or a student, unfairly because they possess characteristics of a specific race, as in hair texture, skin color, facial features or they are married to someone who does. This is often confused with color discrimination, which only pertains to the color of a person’s skin.

Freedom Riders: Starting in May 1961, several civil rights activists, “the Freedom Riders,” rode interstate buses in segregated cities throughout the South to challenge the local and federal government’s decision not to enforce the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Morgan v. Commonwealth of Virginia (1946) and the Boynton v. Virginia (1960) cases that segregated buses were unconstitutional. At almost every stop, the Freedom Riders were attacked, beaten, and in some cases arrested.

Jim Crow Laws: At the end of the American Reconstruction Period (approximately 1876), a series of state and local laws were enacted across the country mandating and legalizing de jure segregation in all public facilities in the South. In the North, segregation was primarily de facto and happened in housing, bank lending practices, and in job discrimination.

Protest Marches: In addition to a series of local protest marches, the modern Civil Rights Movement held three large-scale marches on the Mall in Washington D.C.: the 1957 Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, which is considered to be the first official large demonstration of black people; the 1963 March on Washington (Dr. King spoke at both of these marches); and the 1970 Kent State/Cambodian Incursion Protest, which was held ten days after Nixon announced the Cambodian invasion and 4 days after National Guardsmen killed four students at Kent State University

Segregation: the separation or isolation of a race, class, or ethnic group by enforced or voluntary residence in a restricted area, by barriers to social intercourse, by separate educational facilities, or by other discriminatory means. Segregation has its roots in both the 1857 Dred Scott v. Sanford case, which ruled that since black Americans could not be citizens then they had no rights that whites were bound to respect, and the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson case, which ruled that separate facilities could be established for white and black Americans as long as they were equal.

Voting Rights Act of 1965: Less than one-year after the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, President Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act, which prohibited discrimination in voting. It extended and protects the rights guaranteed under the 15th Amendment, which prohibits the federal and state government from denying a citizen the right to vote.