The Fight for Desegregation in Public Schools.
From the day Lincoln freed the slaves, blacks have been fighting for equality. There has always been some lack of equality; whether the white man prevented blacks from doing something completely or if there were just separate institutions for both. Jim Crow laws in the south forced separate but equal facilities for whites and blacks in everyday life. It wasn't till the desegregation of public schools did we see, "the most radical and potentially far reaching aspect of the civil right's movement" (Civilrights.org). The bold actions by the few led to the desegregation of schools in the 1960's.
For many years, the Civil Rights movement during the first 50 years of the 20th Century accepted a policy of "separate but equal" in its struggle for access into the society. It fought in many communities for equal pay for teachers and for equal school facilities. It fought for equal libraries, recreational facilities, and health services. Plessy defined the terms of the struggle.
Plessy v. Ferguson case and Justice Harlan's dissent. In this decision the Supreme Court decided that "separate by equal" accommodations for Whites and Colored railroad passengers did not violate the rights established in the 14th Amendment. Justice Brown gave the majority decision and he explained that although the Amendment was "undoubtedly to enforce the absolute equality of the two races before the law, it could not legislate the abolition of all distinctions. Laws requiring the separation of the races simply reflected the culture of the .
people and as long as facilities were equal they were not prejudicial." Separation need not imply inferiority of either race. Brown did not feel that social prejudice could be overcome by legislation: "If the two races are to meet upon terms of social equality, it must be the result of natural affinities, a mutual appreciation of each other's merits, and a voluntary consent of individuals.