Jim Crow & Civil Rights Struggle

Between 1865 and 1870, African Americans were set free from slavery by the 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granted citizenship by the 14th amendment and African American males were given the right to vote by the 15th. But in the century following the Civil War, the reality for the newly freed African Americans was segregation in every aspect of life through local and state "Jim Crow" laws.

In 1896 the Supreme Court decision Plessy v. Ferguson legalized "separate but equal" schools, and racially divided sections on buses and trains, in parks and theatres, restaurants, restrooms and workplaces. Businesses often had separate entrances and services for African Americans. They couldn't get health care in facilities used by whites, or be buried in the same cemeteries.

While the majority of Jim Crow laws discriminated specifically against African Americans, Asians and Native Americans were among other minority groups also frequently targeted.

The struggle for equality continued in Freedom's Frontier. In 1948, President Harry S. Truman finally abolished segregation in the military, and Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka got rid of segregated schools in 1954. But some states continued to pass Jim Crow laws into the 1960s, even as the Civil Rights movement was beginning.