Some African Americans started challenging the existence of segregation in the 1800's. A gentleman by the name of Homer Plessy was arrested in 1892 for riding in the white section of a train in Louisiana. The case went to the Supreme Court. The court did not feel the Louisiana segregation laws in anyway violated the Constitution of the United States. Instead, the court ruled that blacks and whites were to have separate public accommodations, such as train cars, hotels, restaurants, and schools. The services offered to blacks were to be equal with whites. The decision of the case became a doctrine. This doctrine held up segregation laws for more than a half a century.
Many African Americans could not handle the oppression the laws were creating. Individual states passed their own laws, especially in the south. The laws were called Black Codes. These codes denied African Americans their constitutional rights. If they were out of a job many were arrested for vagrancy. Fines were placed upon them which had to be paid. The fine was paid off by working for white families. This process did nothing but recreate slavery but on a smaller scale. Black codes kept the African Americans from owning or renting farms. They could only work as servants.
The segregation laws were also called Jim Crow laws. A man named Thomas "Daddy" Rice, would perform in various places depicting African Americans in a negative manner. He would perform in black face, projecting images of poor, lazy, and comical people. These images lead people to believe African Americans weren't fit enough to be treated as well as whites. It perpetuated negative stereotypes that whites had concerning them. The laws kept them apart from one another in their everyday lives. Everywhere you would see signs posted, Colored Only or Whites Only. White people then, never had to question their actions or prejudices.