The decade begins with a wave of lunch counter sit-ins in 1960, followed in 1961 by "Freedom Rides" challenging segregation at bus stations. Civil rights groups launch voter registration drives in the South. The court-ordered admission of James Meredith to the University of Mississippi in 1962 results in a bloody confrontation between federal marshals and a segregationist mob. King helps organize a protest campaign in Birmingham in 1963 during which marchers are attacked with dogs and fire hoses. President Kennedy calls racial discrimination a "moral crisis" and introduces a civil rights bill prohibiting segregation in public accommodations. The bill becomes law in 1964 as hundreds of volunteers go to Mississippi for "Freedom Summer" despite the murder of three civil rights workers by Klansmen. In 1965 the Selma-to-Montgomery march is followed by the passage of the Voting Rights Act.
Deadly riots in Los Angeles in 1965 and in Newark and Detroit in 1967 reveal the extent of racial anger and division outside of the South, while militant calls for "black power" cause major rifts within the civil rights movement. King is assassinated in 1968. The Supreme Court abandons the "all deliberate speed" standard in 1969 and begins to order the immediate desegregation of Southern schools.