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Separate but equal
"Separate but equal" was a policy enacted into law throughout the U.S. Southern states during the period of segregation, in which African-Americans and European-Americans would receive the same services (schools, hospitals, water fountains, bathrooms, etc.), but that there would be distinct facilities for each race. Because of racist attitudes, however, the facilities were, in fact, unequal, with poorer facilities being allotted to Blacks than to Whites. According to one account, a young boy recalled remaining late at a department store so that he could taste the "white" water — to his disappointment, it tasted the same, but the water fountain worked much better than the one designated for African Americans.
The legitimacy of such laws was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1896 case of Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537. The repeal of "separate but equal" laws was a key focus of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. In Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), the Supreme Court outlawed segregated public education facilities for blacks and whites at the state level; the companion case of Bolling v. Sharpe, 347 U.S. 497 outlawed such practices at the Federal level in the District of Columbia.
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