When Did Segregation Start and End?

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Legal segregation began in 1896 when the Supreme Court sanctioned legal separation of the black and white races in the ruling H.A. Plessy v. J.H. Ferguson, but the decision was overruled in 1954. The Supreme Court in 1896 stated that separate but equal facilities did not violate the 14th Amendment; however, it changed its mind thanks to the decision stemming from Brown v. Board of Education in 1954.

After the United States abolished slavery, the country passed three new Constitutional amendments to give newly freed African Americans legal status. The 13th Amendment abolished slavery, while the 14th Amendment provided citizenship to the newly freed slaves. The 15th Amendment guaranteed the right to vote. However, the Supreme Court handed down a series of judgments and rulings that put blacks in a different category from whites by law. This made the African Americans second-class citizens. They were forced via private action to separate themselves from the white people in areas such as transportation, public accommodations, recreational facilities, prisons, schools and even the armed forces.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was formed in 1909. The NAACP began a struggle for the elimination of racial discrimination and segregation that was prevalent in the American life, which culminated in the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in 1954.