In the years of the 19th century, Democratic-controlled states, mainly in the South, passed racially discriminatory laws. In the South, but also elsewhere in the United States, racial violence aimed at African Americans mushroomed. This period is sometimes referred to as "the nadir of American race relations." Elected, appointed, or hired government authorities began to require or permit discrimination, in the states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Required or permitted acts of discrimination against African Americans fell mainly into four categories: (1) racial segregation upheld by the United States Supreme Court decision in Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896 - which was legally mandated by southern states and by many local governments outside the south; (2) voter suppression or disfranchisement in the southern states; (3) denial of economic opportunity or resources nationwide, and (4) private acts of violence and mass racial violence aimed at African Americans, which were often encouraged and seldom hindered by government authorities. The combination in the southern states of overtly racial laws, public and private acts of discrimination, marginal economic opportunity, and racial violence became known as "Jim Crow". The Southern "Jim Crow" regime remained almost entirely intact into the early 1950s, and contributed to the Great Migration, a steady northward flow of African Americans onwards. The situation for African-Americans outside the South was usually somewhat better, though not always appreciably so.
The Civil Rights Movement prior to 1955 confronted discrimination against African-Americans with a variety of strategies. These included litigation and lobbying efforts by traditional organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The crowning achievement of these efforts was the... [continues]
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