Describe the obstacles that stood in the way of economic and political equality for southern blacks in the late 19th century

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There were legal and societal obstacles that prevented southern blacks from gaining political and economic equality in the late 19th century. The Supreme Court case Plessy vs. Ferguson in 1896 allowed "separate but equal" facilities for blacks and whites; this case allowed the legal construction of separate schools and other facilities. Though black schools were supposed to be equal to those of whites, they were in reality underfunded and inferior to those of whites. Blacks did not have access to quality education.

In addition, blacks were largely prevented from voting through measures such as poll taxes and literacy tests. Blacks also did not have the means to improve their lot economically, as they were generally employed as domestics (maids) or sharecroppers. As sharecroppers, they did not usually own their own land, and they were caught in a cycle of debt to landowners. The Jim Crow practices of the south did not allow blacks to own businesses, save those that served other blacks. To search for better opportunities, many blacks began leaving the South before World War I. This movement of black people to the North, Midwest, and West, called the Great Migration, continued through World War II.

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