As a reaction to the post-Civil War period known as Reconstruction, many states established a series of ordinances and statutes that became known as Jim Crow laws. These laws set up a system of forced racial segregation across the United States. In fact, the new state of Oklahoma ensured that its first piece of legislation in 1907 was a Jim Crow law—Senate Bill One required that all rail and urban street cars be segregated.

The concept of "separate but equal" accommodations laid out in the US Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson was largely ignored. Because of this, African Americans in the southern states experienced conditions that were highly inferior to those of white residents. This is the story of those individuals who began to tear down the walls of intolerance and discrimination.