The reason they passed those Jim Crow laws is that powerful white people were getting more and more nervous with the way colored people [...] were starting to accumulate some wealth, to vote, to make demands (4.10.2)
Now that slavery is done, the powers-that-be need a new way to oppress the masses. Step one: limit their educational opportunities and undermine their right to free speech. Step two: reinforce the fact that white people and black people have different cultural backgrounds in the hopes of inciting tension in the masses.
We may have been little children but, honey, we got the message loud and clear. But when nobody was looking, Bessie took the dipper from the white side and drank from it. (4.10.8)
Bessie and Sadie were born before Jim Crow, so these new regulations don't make too much sense to them. All we know is that Bessie will always say F.U. ("Forget Underwear!") to anyone who tries to hold her back
Knowing people like Miss Moseley and out white grandfather, Mr. Miliam, made this Jim Crow mess seem mighty puzzling. (4.11.7)
The injustice of Jim Crow is downright silly at times. Sadie and Bessie have white family members and friends, yet they wouldn't be able to eat at the same restaurant if they tried.
Like Manross, all the colored veterans came back just as proud as they could be [...] They thought they would surely come home and be treated like citizens. Manross was very disappointed. (5.15.19)
Manross has risked life, limb, and injury to protect his country. Shouldn't that earn him the respect of his fellow Americans? He even visits the parents of a white man whose life he saved but is turned away at the door.
When N****es are average, they fail, unless they are very, very lucky. Now, if you're average and white, honey, you can go far. (5.17.28)
This knowledge drives them to work even harder. That being said, you can't expect everybody to work as hard (and as well) as a Delany—eventually, we need to fix the problems at the roots of the system.
It seems like the momentum was lost when the Vietnam War happened. It was like all the energy of the young people, and the focus of the country, got shifted away from civil rights. (7.30.28)
If we were conspiracy theorists (and we're not, for the record), we'd say that there's no such thing as coincidences. Regardless, war has a way of distracting citizens from problems on the home-front.