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Separate but equal

"Separate but equal" was a policy enacted into law throughout the U.S. Southern States during the period of segregation, in which African Americans and Americans of European descent would receive the same services (schools, hospitals, water fountains, bathrooms, etc.), but that there would be distinct facilities for each race. Because of racist attitudes, however, the facilities were, in fact, unequal, with poorer facilities being allotted to Blacks. According to one account, a young boy recalled remaining late at a department store so that he could taste the "white" water -- to his disappointment, it tasted the same, but the water fountain worked much better than than the one designated for African Americans.

The repeal of "separate but equal" laws was a key focus of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. In Brown v. Board of Education of 1954, the Supreme Court outlawed segregated public education facilities for blacks and whites.