In 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that segregation was legal, on a “separate but equal” basis. But for more than five decades, life for black and white Americans was seldom equal, but always separate.
To fight segregation, the NAACP and others exposed the dismal and debasing conditions in black schools. They won a monumental victory in Brown v. Board of Education—but then a young boy from Chicago named Emmett Till was dredged from the swamps of Mississippi.
Till’s death galvanized the movement. Listening to an activist speak about Till’s murder, one woman would rise to become the face of the fight against segregation. On a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat.
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