Humanities › History & Culture How Segregation Was Ruled Illegal in U.S. Plessy V. Ferguson Decisin Reversed Share Flipboard Email Print Plessy v. Ferguson. Walter Bibikow/ The Image Bank/ Getty Images History & Culture The 20th Century The 50s People & Events Fads & Fashions Early 20th Century The 20s The 30s The 40s The 60s The 80s The 90s American History African American History African History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History Women's History View More By Jennifer Rosenberg History Expert B.A., History, University of California at Davis Jennifer Rosenberg is a historian and writer who specializes in 20th-century history. our editorial process Jennifer Rosenberg Updated February 07, 2019 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 decision remained the law of the land until it was overturned by the Supreme Court in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case in 1954. Plessy v. Ferguson 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. Segregation Ruling Reversed 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. Brown v. Board of Education 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. This monumental decision was one of the most important rulings handed down by the United States Supreme Court in the 20th century.