1948 Briggs v Elliott, the first case against segregation in public schools.
1954 Brown v Board: Supreme Court rules that racial segregation in schools is unconstitutional.
1955 Martin Luther King organises bus boycott over separate seats for "coloureds".
1957 Federal troops sent in during rioting as schools desegregate in Little Rock, Arkansas.
1960 Greensboro, North Carolina, sit-in at Woolworth's lunch counter where black students are refused service. Nationwide sit-ins follow.
1962 Widespread rioting when University of Mississippi refuses James Meredith's bid to become the first African-American to enrol.
1963 Only 12,000 of three million African-Americans in the South attend integrated schools. Some 200,000 march on Washington.
1964 Civil Rights Act bans federal funding for segregated schools.
1968 Martin Luther King murdered. Supreme Court orders a school board to ensure integration by methods including "bussing".
1971 District courts' power to order school boards to take action on desegregation is upheld. Measures including bussing continue in many cities until the late 1990s.
1974 Supreme Court rules that surburban children cannot be used to desegregate inner-city schools, prompting a flight of white middle-classes to the suburbs.
1989 Linda Brown, the subject of the landmark 1954 ruling, brings new lawsuit on behalf of her own children against the state's failure to desegregate.
2003 Supreme Court upholds colleges' right to use positive discrimination on admissions to achieve racial diversity.