In 1957, former Air Force B-26 pilot Marlon Green applied to multiple airlines without a response. Rather than accept his fate, he took his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, and won.
Article By Lisa Tyler, FAA Aviation Safety Office
During the golden age of air travel in the 1950s and 1960s, there appeared to be a kind of nominal equality in the skies. Due to federal antidiscrimination law, airplanes were not segregated spaces, although airports often were. A variety of factors led to a kind of de facto discrimination, both in the cockpit and in the cabin. For instance, the cost of air travel was out of reach for a majority of people, regardless of race. And, while the Tuskegee Airmen and others broke the barriers of color for military pilots, military experience did not often translate into acceptance by commercial airlines.