Following the end of the American Civil War (1861–1865) and the abolition of slavery, African Americans entered the country’s social mainstream with new rights, including citizenship and the right to vote. However, these rights were quickly undermined by a series of Supreme Court rulings that established the segregation of whites and blacks. Racism was still a prevalent feature of everyday life in the United States, and in many places, particularly the Southern states, blacks were widely viewed as second-class citizens. Segregation was achieved through a series of statutes informally known as the Jim Crow laws, which instituted the physical separation of whites and blacks in public spaces, including transportation, schools, accommodations, and recreational areas. The US Armed Forces, along with...

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