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While many Alabamians informally and incompletely enforced separate living and working arrangements during slavery, the state's role in formalizing and codifying separation was a postwar development.
Formal and informal policies of repression, such as separate public accommodations, limited access to suffrage, and strict control over black labor, were put into place between the 1870s and the 1890s, and Alabama's 1901 constitution rested upon white supremacy as a basic element of governance.
The supremacist underpinnings of the constitution persisted until judicial decisions in the 1950s and 1960s rendered them inoperable, and some segregationist language, like the ban on interracial marriage, remained in the constitution until Alabama's voters removed it by constitutional amendment in the twenty-first century.
At the end of the Civil War, Alabama had to reconstitute its state legislature.
Some historians list three other important elements contributing to the creation and reinforcement of the status quo: physical force and terror, economic intimidation, and psychological control exerted through messages of low worth and negativity transmitted socially to African American citizens.
As a comprehensive legal and social policy, segregation was not fully institutionalized in Alabama until the beginning of the twentieth century, but had its roots in struggles over how to deal with the realities of emancipation and federal legislation and constitutional change that gave blacks full citizenship.
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