Segregation Ruled Illegal in U.S. (1954): In 1896, the Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court case determined that "separate but equal" was constitutional. The opinion of the Supreme Court stated, "A statute which implies merely a legal distinction between the white and colored races -- a distinction which is founded in the color of the two races, and which must always exist so long as white men are distinguished from the other race by color -- has no tendency to destroy the legal equality of the two races, or re-establish a state of involuntary servitude."
The Plessy v. Ferguson legitimized the numerous state and local laws that had been created around the United States after the Civil War. Across the country, blacks and whites were legally forced to use separate train cars, separate drinking fountains, separate schools, separate entrances into buildings, and much more. Segregation was the law.
On May 17, 1954, the law was changed. In the landmark Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision by ruling that segregation was "inherently unequal." Although the Brown v. Board of Education was specifically for the field of education, the decision had a much broader scope.
Although the Brown v. Board of Education decision overturned all the segregation laws in the country, the enactment of integration was not immediate. In actuality, it took many years, much turmoil, and even bloodshed to integrate the country.