*Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Almost a year after a woman named Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to sit in the back of a National City Lines bus in Montgomery, Alabama, the United States Supreme Court upheld a ruling which struck down local and state laws allowing segregation on November 13, 1956. A month later, the Montgomery Bus Boycott — an early moment for the Civil Rights Movement in America — would finally come to an end.
In the post-Civil War South, the end of slavery created a whole host of problems for African Americans freed as the former Confederate States re-entered the Union. As the region rebuilt, legislators introduced a variety of statutes to establish segregation as a truly legal practice, as opposed to other states which used social action to deny privileges on the basis of race. When the Supreme Court ruled in Plessy v. Ferguson that facilities need only be “separate but equal” — an idea nearly impossible to enforce — the constitutionality of such practices was upheld in 1896.
The result of all this work, then, would be distinct schools for white and black children, restaurants favoring one race over another and public services like water fountains and bathrooms set apart for people of color. Companies were allowed (and perhaps even encouraged) to create policies to maintain this distance, which is why the city of Montgomery allowed National City Lines to designate specific areas in its buses for African-American patrons near the back and rules requiring blacks to stand if a white person wanted their seat. …(Read more)