The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution was the second of the three so-called Reconstruction amendments to settle constitutional questions that the Civil War created. It was ratified in 1868, three years after the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment and two years before the Fifteenth Amendment.
Consisting of five sections that conferred citizenship on former slaves, protected the rights of citizens from state abridgement, and initially disenfranchised some men who had taken part in the Civil War, the Fourteenth Amendment is the longest and most complex of the three amendments and has had the most wide-ranging and controversial influence on American politics and society.
The Fourteenth Amendment granted American citizenship to the freedpeople and guaranteed that all people were entitled to the protections of due process of law and the equal protection of the law. During the following decades some states enacted laws that did discriminate against African Americans and often relegated them to second-class citizenship.
The "separate but equal" doctrine created in 1896 by the Supreme Court ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson permitted state governments to adopt many laws requiring separation of the races, and during the first half of the twentieth century federal and state courts relied on that doctrine to uphold racial segregation and discrimination statutes.
Following nearly two decades of legal challenges to the effects of racial segregation in public schools and higher education, the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas on May 17, 1954, that state laws requiring the separation of races in public schools were unconstitutional.
After the Supreme Court reversed the "separate but equal" doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson, African Americans continued an increasingly vigorous and widespread campaign against racial segregation and discrimination generally.
"Who is Jim Crow? Understanding Stereotypes"
Virginia Standards of Learning: VUS.7 (c), VUS.8 (c), USII.3 (c)
National History Standards: United States History: Era 6, Standard 17; Era 9, Standard 29
"Jim Crow and Virginia Indians"
Virginia Standards of Learning: VS.8 (a, b), USII.4 (c)
National History Standards: Standards in History for Grades K-4, Topic 2, Standard 3c, History Standards for Grades 5-12, United States, Era 6, Standard 2b