The infamous justification for the decision in Plessy v Ferguson, the case that formally legalized segregation. The justification behind the decision was that segregation was Constitutional as long as both black and white Americans had equal protection under the law.
Of course, the idea of ‘separate but equal’ was not followed at all, and segregation led to a huge disparity in access to nearly every aspect of life for many Black Americans. The 1956 Brown v Board of Education case would overturn the separate but equal doctrine, saying that separate could not possibly be equal.
Time: “The case reached the Supreme Court in 1896, and the court ruled that Louisiana’s law, calling for ‘equal but separate’ facilities on trains, was constitutional. The majority opinion held that Negroes were equal to whites ‘civilly and politically,’ but not ‘socially.’
In 1954, with Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court finally declared what Americans could long have seen with their own eyes: that which was kept separate was inherently unequal. “Even if physical facilities are equal, said the court,there are intangible factors which prevent ‘separate’ from being ‘equal,’””