Note that the historical events I described above are largely in the South. Jesus Colon's experience was in New York City in 1955 or 1956. Below, I include some resources that will help you understand race relations in New York City during that time period and also help you to put into context Colon's experience at the subway.
1)To stand and fight: The struggle for civil rights in post-war New York City by Martha Biondi.
This link takes you to a review on Biondi's book, which documents the civil rights struggle in the North and New York City after WWII. Biondi discusses desegregation in public housing, law enforcement issues, and unfair employment practices in New York City. With the help of African-American activists, the New York legislature created the country's first fair employment practices committee in 1945. Biondi also documents police brutality in New York City between the early 1950's and mid 1950's (this is the time frame of Colon's dilemma at the subway station).
(The entire section contains 2 answers and 767 words.)