a decision by the US Supreme Court in 1896 that the segregation (=separation) of black people from white people was legal, as long as black people were given services, such as schools or restaurants, that were described as "separate but equal" services. The decision specifically concerned segregation on trains, but led in some states to separate schools, hotels, restaurants, and seats in theatres, buses etc. The decision made in this court case was changed in 1954 by the Supreme Court's decision in the case ofBrown v. Board of Education of Topeka.
Definition from the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Advanced Learner's Dictionary.
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