What kinds of public amenities were separate for people of different races?

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Just about every public amenity you can think of was segregated under the notorious Jim Crow laws. Schools, restaurants, water fountains—they were all used to separate people on racial grounds. There weren't separate buses for different races, as it would've been a hit to bus companies' profits, but buses were still segregated in that African Americans were confined to specific areas at the back. Rosa Parks famously defied segregation on buses by refusing to get up and move from her seat at the front to make way for white passengers.

It was the same with lunch counters. Certain lunch counters were reserved for white patrons, while African Americans were expected to eat elsewhere. Segregated lunch counters in places such as Birmingham, Alabama became the focus of the civil rights movement. Activists would sit down in whites-only areas and stage protests until they were forcibly removed by the police. The protesters were campaigning against not only the separate provision of facilities but the fact that facilities for African Americans were either decidedly inferior or, in the case of segregated buses, led to their being treated as second-class citizens.

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The United States had legalized segregation for many years. During this time, there were a series of laws known as the Jim Crow Laws that created separate facilities for blacks and for whites.

For a period of time, segregation existed in almost all aspects of society. The Plessy v Ferguson Supreme Court case legalized this segregation. This specific case dealt with railroad cars. Homer Plessy sued because he had to sit in the railroad car reserved for African-Americans. The Supreme Court ruled that this was legal as long as the facilities were equal. This was known as the “separate but equal” doctrine.

Other aspects of public life that were separated by race included drinking fountains, schools, seating sections on buses, restaurants, and bathrooms. It wasn’t until the 1950s and the 1960s that this began to change. The Brown v Board of Education case in 1954 made this concept illegal in public schools. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended segregation in public facilities.

The struggle to deal with segregation has been a long and difficult process.

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