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De jure segregation is racial segregation that is caused by governmental actions or law. De jure school segregation can be distinguished from de facto school segregation on the basis that the latter results from the private actions of individuals or societal forces rather than the state. This entry looks at the legal history of de jure segregation.

Court-Supported Segregation

In Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), its first case directly on this point, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld de jure segregation as long as facilities for Whites and Blacks were “separate but equal.” Three years later, the Court extended de jure segregation that was not equal in Cumming v. County Board of Education of Richmond County (1899), wherein the justices allowed a school board to close a Black high ...

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