Yesterday — May 18th — was the anniversary of Plessy v. Ferguson, the 1896 US Supreme Court case that upheld a Louisiana state law requiring separate railway cars for blacks and whites. The Court found that separate facilities satisfied the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution so long as they were equal. The separate-but-equal doctrine remained good law in the United States until it was finally repudiated by the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education — decided 58 years later, on May 17, 1954.
In Brown v. Board of Education, the Court held that state laws that established separate public schools for black and white students violated the Fourteen Amendment by denying black children equal educational opportunities. The case was a judicial watershed that eventually dismantled the legal basis for racial segregation in schools and other public facilities, and laid the foundation for the civil rights movement.