In July 1950, the Supreme Court of the United States decided that segregated dining cars violated the Interstate Commerce Act, subjecting persons of color to "undue or unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage." This Budd Company publicity photo of the Florida East Coast's "Fort San Marco" dining car (a "Jim Crow" car) shows how segregation was achieved. The two draperies in the background were drawn to create special seating for non-white passengers who wished to dine. Ironically, of course, as depicted here, African-American waiters served white and black customers alike.
The end of segregation in dining cars was a milestone in railroad history, undoing the "separate but equal" regulation that arose after the U.S. Supreme Court's Plessy v. Ferguson ruling of 1896. Only dining cars were affected in 1950. Full desegregation followed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Some railroads, like the Seaboard Air Line, prepared regulations for "serving meals to colored persons," painstakingly the African American wait staff about how to deal with their brethren.