In order to understand the Million Man March it is important to introduce the history leading up to that point. African American slavery in America began in the 17th century but the movement towards freedom from slavery wasn't until the Civil War. Unfortunately the Civil War far from brought the struggle of American Americans to end but it was the begging of more than 100 years of battling for a truly free lifestyle for the African American community. After the Civil War, especially in the Southern States there was a general consensus that something needed to be done to keep recently emancipated slaves under control. Special laws were established called Jim Crow and were made in order to keep African Americans suppressed and to feel as second class citizens. These laws went as deep as to punish any person that had any African American ancestry at all even if they looked as though they were Caucasian. Jim Crow Laws went hand in hand with the term "Separate but Equal" as time went on. These laws that started in the 1870's were in effect all the way through to the 1960's and included "accommodations" such as separate drinking fountains and train cars. For several years these laws were in effect and relatively unmatched until the 1890's. A man named Homer Plessy who although looked Caucasian was legally of African American decent boarded a white's only box car in New Orleans. He announced his African American ancestry and was quickly ejected from the cart and arrested. This incident in June 1892 was became so important because it was, "African American citizen's first collective effort to challenge the legality of Jim Crow..." The arrest of Homer Plessy and "the lawsuit that followed his arrest represents not only the legal benchmark for Jim Crow legislation but also the culmination of the battle waged...to establish and maintain public rights as citizens." The court case of Plessy went all the way to the US Supreme Court and paved the road for changes in African American Rights.
In the 1950's another battle was being waged for African American equality in public education. Although "buildings, curricula, qualifications and salaries of teachers" , was generally the same in both African American and Caucasian public schools the mental impact of segregation to the development of the children in the African American community was becoming a serious issue. Several studies showed that in separating children of the same age due to race did in fact create the idea of inferiority of African American children to Caucasian children. Supreme Court case records revealed that segregation in schools created a, "feeling of inferiority in black children that scarred the child's self-image and could potentially retard character development." Once again the Supreme Court found in favor civil equality for African Americans unfortunately once again there was no timeline established in the transition away from separate but equal schools to integrated schools. The fight for desegregating public education took a new turn when President Eisenhower took it upon himself in 1954 to create a plan for Washington D.C. schools to make a rapid transformation away from segregation. Unfortunately once again although many states took to the new public education laws there were still difficulty in dustbowl and southern states. It seemed as though regardless of the theoretical steps forward there was still segregation and racial discrimination all over the country. The difficulty the children faced in public education is an important factor because these children facing battles of inequality are the adults that participated in the Million Man March.