January
Martin Luther King and his allies found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to carry out the civil rights agenda. On February 14th, King is officially elected as leader.

August
Congress passes its first civil rights bill since 1875. It creates a Civil Rights Commission and establishes the Civil Rights division of the Justice Department. Nevertheless, the bill's provisions are so watered down that it is widely regarded as ineffectual.

September
Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus posts members of the National Guard at the entrance of Central High School in Little Rock to prevent the court-ordered admission of black students. Three weeks after the stand off begins, the students try to enter the school and are greeted by an angry mob. On September 24th, Eisenhower finally sends 1100 army paratroopers from the 101st Airborne Division into Little Rock, federalizes 10,000 members of the Arkansas National Guard, and orders the school to be desegregated. Governor Faubus eventually closes all four high schools in Little Rock rather than allow desegregation to continue.