The movement to expand civil rights goes back to the 19th century. There were efforts to challenge Jim Crow laws and expand basic freedoms for black Americans. Most of these early efforts were met with failure. For instance, an attempt to desegregate train cars backfired with the Supreme Court case of Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, in which the court upheld segregation.
After World War II, the Civil Rights movement restarted in earnest. After intense lobbying from activist groups such as the NAACP, President Truman signed an executive order in 1948 which ended segregation in the military. Emboldened by the federal success, more grass-roots efforts began around the country.
A lot of effort went into challenging Jim Crow laws in the courts. The landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 reversed the Plessy v Ferguson decision. This suit, sponsored by the NAACP, challenged segregation in public schools. The Supreme Court ruled that it was impossible for separate accommodations to ever...
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