In 1896, the Supreme Court made a ruling that shaped race relations in the USA for the next 60 years.
In 1892, a black man called Homer Plessy was arrested for refusing to move from a seat on a train that had been reserved for a white person.
Plessy’s case eventually reached the Supreme Court. He argued that his rights had been infringed and that the Jim Crow laws went against the Constitution of the USA.
Despite this argument, Plessy lost his case. The Supreme Court ruled that it was acceptable to segregate black and white people so long as equal facilities were provided. This decision was known as the ‘separate but equal’ ruling.
The ruling said,
laws which keep the races apart do not mean that one race is better or worse than the other.
The outcome of the Plessy case had made the Jim Crow laws legal. This opened the door for similar laws and segregation became the accepted way of life in the Southern states.