separate but equal - Legal Definition
The once-argued doctrine that all races are treated fairly when substantially equal facilities are made available to all, even though the races—meaning especially African Americans and Caucasians—are restricted to separate facilities. It was the argument of segregationists during the civil-rights controversy in the 1950s and ‘60s and was ultimately ruled to be in violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The doctrine was established in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) and overturned in Brown v. Board of Education (1954). It was found that separate is inherently unequal, and that segregation of whites from blacks in schools created a sense of inferiority that tended to impede educational and mental development of African-American children.