Separate Is Not Equal - Brown v. Board of Education

Smithsonian National Museum of American History Behring Center

Segregated America
  • Promise of Freedom
  • White Only
  • Separate but Equal
  • The Supreme Court
The Battleground
Legal Campaign
Five Communities Change a Nation
The Decision

Segregated America

Sign, 'Colored Waiting Room'
After the Civil War, millions of formerly enslaved African Americans hoped to join the larger society as full and equal citizens. Although some white Americans welcomed them, others used people’s ignorance, racism, and self-interest to sustain and spread racial divisions. By 1900, new laws and old customs in the North and the South had created a segregated society that condemned Americans of color to second-class citizenship.