U.S. Supreme Court decides in Brown v. Board of Education, Topeka that "separate" schools cannot be "equal."
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June 14: Democratic nominee for state Attorney General, Albert Patterson, murdered in Phenix City, prompting clean-up of the "wickedest city in America."

October 31: Martin Luther King Jr, of Atlanta is installed as minister of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery. A little more than a year later, on the first day of the Montgomery Bus Boycott he was named president of the Montgomery Improvement Association, a role which made him a national civil rights figure.
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December 1: Rosa Parks, a black seamstress, is arrested for refusing to give up her seat for a boarding white passenger as required by Montgomery city ordinance. Her action prompted the historic Montgomery Bus Boycott and earned her a place in history as “the mother of the modern day civil rights movement.” Ms. Parks was inducted into the Alabama Academy of Honor in August 2000.
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January 30: With the Montgomery Bus Boycott about to enter its third month, segregationists bomb the home of boycott spokesman Martin Luther King Jr. The home sustained moderate damage, but no one was injured. The young minister addressed the large crowd that gathered after the blast, declaring, "I want it to be known the length and breadth of this land that if I am stopped this movement will not stop."
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Army Ballistic Missile Agency established at Huntsville's Redstone Arsenal.

Autherine Lucy unsuccessfully attempts to desegregate the University of Alabama.

December 21: The Supreme Court ruling banning segregated seating on Montgomery’s public transit vehicles goes into effect. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks were among the first people to ride a fully integrated bus, ending the historic year-long Montgomery Bus Boycott.
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Soviet satellite "SPUTNIK" launched to begin "Space Race."

Huntsville-built "Jupiter" rocket places American satellite in orbit around Earth.

September 8: The George C. Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville is dedicated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Gov. John Patterson and Werner von Braun, director of the space flight center, were in attendance as was Mrs. Marshall who unveiled a bust in honor of her husband.
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State population= 3,266,740.

1960 Federal Census:

White population= 2,283,609
African-American population= 980,271
Urban population= 1,689,417
Rural population= 1,577,323
Cotton production in bales= 683,491
Corn production in bushels= 62,580,000
Number of manufacturing establishments (1963)= 4,079.

March 2: President John F. Kennedy appoints Alabama native Dr. Luther Leonidas Terry U. S. Surgeon General. Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the United States, released on January 11, 1964, concluded that lung cancer and chronic bronchitis are causally related to cigarette smoking.

May 1: Harper Lee of Monroeville wins the Pulitzer Prize for To Kill A Mockingbird, her first, and only, novel. The gripping tale set in 1930s Alabama became an international bestseller and was made into a major Hollywood motion picture starring Gregory Peck.
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May 20: The Freedom Riders arrive at the Greyhound bus terminal in Montgomery where they are attacked by an angry mob. The Freedom Ride, an integrated bus trip from Washington D.C., through the Deep South, was formed to test the 1960 Supreme Court decision prohibiting segregation in bus and train terminal facilities. Before reaching Montgomery, they had already suffered violent reprisals in Anniston and Birmingham. The Freedom Ride eventually resulted in a campaign that caused the Interstate Commerce Commission to rule against segregated facilities in interstate travel.

"Freedom Rides" through the Deep South challenge racial segregation on public carriers and spark into violence in Anniston, Birmingham, and Montgomery.

1961 .. 1973
America involved in Vietnam War.

November 30: Football and baseball star, Vincent Edward "Bo" Jackson was born in Bessemer. Jackson won the Heisman Trophy in 1985 and was the first professional athlete to be named an all star in two major sports.
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Governor George C. Wallace inaugurated for first of four terms in office.

Birmingham bombings of Civil Rights-related targets, including the offices of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the home of A.D. King (brother of Martin Luther King, Jr.), and the 16th Street Baptist Church (in which 4 children were killed), focus national attention on racial violence in the state.
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Governor Wallace's "stand in the schoolhouse door" at the University of Alabama protests federally forced racial integration; Vivian Malone and James Hood register for classes as first African-American students.
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University of South Alabama founded in Mobile.

May 19: Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail" is issued to the public in a press release. Begun April 16 from the Birmingham City Jail, where King was under arrest for participation in civil rights demonstrations, the letter was addressed to eight local clergymen who had recently urged civil rights leaders to use the courts and local negotiations instead of mass demonstrations to promote their cause in Birmingham. King's letter, which soon became a classic text of the civil rights movement, rejected the clergymen's plea.
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June 11: Dr. James Hardy, a native of Shelby County, Alabama, and chief of surgery at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, performs the world's first human lung transplant. The patient lived for three weeks before dying of chronic kidney disease. The next year Hardy transplanted a chimpanzee's heart into another patient, marking the first transplant of a heart into a human.
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February 15: "The man with the velvet voice," Nat King Cole dies in Santa Monica, California. Born the son of a Baptist minister in Montgomery in 1919, Cole sold over 50 million records and became the first African-American male with a weekly network television series.

March 7: Six-hundred demonstrators make the first of three attempts to march from Selma to the capitol in Montgomery to demand removal of voting restrictions on black Americans. Attacked by state and local law enforcement officers as they crossed Selma's Edmund Pettus Bridge, the marchers fled back into the city. The dramatic scene was captured on camera and broadcast across the nation later that Sunday, causing a surge of support for the protestors.
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March 21: Rev. Martin Luther King leads 3,200 marchers from Selma toward Montgomery in support of civil rights for black Americans, after two earlier marches had ended at the Edmund Pettus Bridge--the first in violence and the second in prayer. Four days later, outside the Alabama state capitol, King told 25,000 demonstrators that "we are on the move now . . . and no wave of racism can stop us." On August 6, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law.

Lurleen Wallace inaugurated as state's first woman governor (died 1968).
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University of Alabama at Huntsville established. University of Alabama at Birmingham established, joining University's medical and dental schools there since the 1940s.

Winton Blount was appointed U.S. Postmaster General by President Richard Nixon. Blount was a building contractor and philanthropist and active in Alabama Republican Party politics.
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September 14: Talladega Speedway opens with its first running of the Talladega 500 which is won by Richard Brickhouse. Over 30 top drivers boycotted the first run saying the track was unsafe at high speeds. The facility cost $4 million dollars to build and attracted a crowd of 65,000 to the first major race. In April 2000, a crowd of 180,000 watched Jeff Gordon win the Diehard 500.
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State population= 3,444,165.

1970 Federal Census:

White population= 2,533,831
African-American population= 903,467
Urban population= 2,011,941
Rural population= 1,432,224
Cotton production in bales= 507,000
Corn production in bushels= 12,535,000.

March 17: The Alabama Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville is dedicated, with Werner von Braun calling it "a graphic display of man's entering into the cosmic age." Now known as the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, visitors tour the museum, which includes rockets and spacecraft, and participate in activities like Space Camp.
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May 15: Gov. George C. Wallace is shot in Maryland while campaigning for the Democratic nomination for president. The assassination attempt by Arthur Bremer left the Governor paralyzed from the waist down and effectively ended his chances at the nomination. He campaigned again for president in 1976, marking his fourth consecutive run for that office.

December: The Alabama Shakespeare Festival began as a summer stock program in Anniston. In 1985 it moved to Montgomery into a new performing arts complex endowed by Mr. and Mrs. Winton Blount. By 2007 it was the sixth largest Shakespeare festival in the world.
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April 8: Mobile native Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves hits his 715th career home run to break Babe Ruth's longstanding record. Aaron finished his career with 755 home runs.
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State population=3,894,000.

1980 Federal Census:

White population=2,783,000
African-American population=996,000
Urban population=2,338,000
Rural population=1,556,000
Cotton production in bales=275,000
Corn production in bushels=15,000,000.

Country music group Alabama selected "Vocal Group of the Year" by Academy of Country Music; went on to garner fifth consecutive "Entertainer of the Year" award from the Country Music Association (1986).

November: Oscar Adams was elected to the Alabama Supreme Court, becoming the first African American elected to statewide constitutional office in Alabama.
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January 26: Alabamians are shocked and saddened when retired University of Alabama football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant dies suddenly from a heart attack. Bryant began coaching at Alabama in 1958 and went on to win six national championships with the team. In 1981 he became football's "winningest" coach with 315 victories.
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Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway opens.
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November 22: Kathryn Thornton, a native of Montgomery and graduate of Auburn University, becomes the first woman to fly on a military space mission on the Space Shuttle Discovery. Thornton became the second woman to walk in space in 1992. Dr. Thornton retired from NASA in 1996 to join the faculty of the University of Virginia.
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State population=4,040,587.

1990 Federal Census:

White population=2,975,837
African-American population=1,020,677
Urban population=2,439,549
Rural population=1,601,038
Cotton production in bales=375,000
Corn production in bushels=13,920,000.

Governor Guy Hunt, in second term as first Republican governor of the state since Reconstruction, convicted of misuse of public funds and removed from office.

In September Mercedes-Benz announces it will build its first automobile assembly plant in North America in Vance, Tuscaloosa County, creating more than 1500 jobs. Construction on the $300 million plant was completed in July 1996, and the first of the M-Class SUV's went on sale in September 1997.

Alabama's Heather Whitestone serves as first Miss America with a disability.
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Anniston native Dr. David Satcher is appointed Surgeon General of the United States.

State population=4,447,100.

2000 Federal Census:

White population=3,188,102
African-American population=1,138,726
Hispanic population=45,349

Etowah County Circuit Judge Roy Moore is elected Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. Moore rose to national attention earlier when he was sued by the ACLU for displaying the Ten Commandments in his courtroom.

Birmingham native Condoleezza Rice is appointed National Security Advisor to President George W. Bush. She is the first woman to occupy that postion.

2001 (November)

Winfield native and C.I.A. operative Michael Spann dies in prison uprising in Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan, becoming the first U.S. casualty in the war in Afghanistan.

Alabama casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan

November, Honda Manufacturing of Alabama in Lincoln, Alabama, begins production.
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In April of 2002, Hyundai broke ground in Montgomery, Alabama for its first U.S. automobile assembly plant, a $1 billion investment that is scheduled to open in 2005 and employ nearly 2,000 people. The facility, to be built on 1,600 acres, is expected to assemble 300,000 vehicles per year. The first two vehicles scheduled to be produced in the Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA) assembly plant are the revised Sonata and Santa Fe models.
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Birmingham native Vonetta Flowers and teammate Jill Bakken win a gold medal in bobsledding at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Flowers is the first African American to win a gold medal in a winter olympics.
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May 22 -- Bobby Frank Cherry is convicted of murder for his part in the bombing of Birmingham's Sixteenth St. Baptist Church. Cherry is the last living suspect to be prosecuted for the Sept. 15, 1963, blast that killed 11-year-old Denise McNair, and 14-year-olds Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley and Addie Mae Collins.

November 13 -- Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy S. Moore is removed from office when the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission determines that he violated his oath of office when he refused to obey a Federal court order to remove a granite display of the Ten Commandments from the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building.

November 16 -- President George W. Bush nominates National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice to serve as Secretary of State. The Birmingham native is the first African American woman to serve in that office. She was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on January 26, 2005.
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January 13 -- Concert and operatic star Nell Rankin dies in New York at age 81. The Montgomery native made her stage debut in Wagner's Lohengrin in Zurich, Switzerland in 1949.

August 29 -- Hurricane Katrina, a category 5 hurricane, makes landfall on the Louisiana coast, and becomes one of the greatest natural disasters in U.S. history. Katrina leaves a wake of destruction stretching across the northern Gulf coast from Louisiana to Florida.

May 11 -- German steel manufacturer ThyssenKrupp AG announces it will invest nearly $4 billion in plant construction in Mobile County. The Montgomery Advertiser reports that as many as 29,000 jobs could be generated during the construction phase.

November 5 -- President George W. Bush awards To Kill A Mockingbird author Harper Lee the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award, to recognize contributions in science, the arts, literature and the cause of peace and freedom.

July 13 -- President Barack Obama nominates Dr. Regina M. Benjamin to be Surgeon General of the United States. A graduate of Morehouse College and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Benjamin specialized in Family Medicine at the Medical Center of Central Georgia. Founder and CEO of the BayouClinic in Bayou La Batre, Alabama, Benjamin since 1990 has been providing health care to the low income community.

January 7 -- Coach Nick Saban leads the University of Alabama football team, including Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, to win the BCS National Championship in Pasadena, CA against the Texas Longhorns with a final score of 37 to 21.

November 2 -- Republican candidate Dr. Robert Bentley is elected governor and the party gains a majority in the Alabama House, Senate and Supreme Court, wresting control from Democrats for the first time since 1874.

January 10 -- SEC champions Auburn University, led by Coach Gene Chizik and Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton, defeat PAC-10 champions University of Oregon in the BCS National Championship game in Glendale, Arizona, with a final score of 22-19.

January 9 -- No. 2 ranked University of Alabama defeats no. one ranked Lousiana State University 21-0 to earn the BCS National Championship in New Orleans, making it the third national championship won by Coach Nick Saban.

January 7 -- No. 2 ranked University of Alabama defeats no. one ranked Notre Dame 42-14 to earn the BCS National Championship in Miami, making it the fourth national championship won by Coach Nick Saban.

October 20 -- Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) is indicted by a Lee County grand jury on 23 felony Ethics Law violations.

June 12 -- Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) is convicted by a Lee County jury of 12 felony Ethics Law violations.

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See also This Week in Alabama History