Racial Segregation

Racial Segregation in the United States is defined as legal or social practice of separating groups of people by custom or by law based on differences of race, religion, wealth, culture, or sexual orientation (www.worldbook.com). Segregation is usually the result of a long period of group conflict, with one group having more power and influence than another group. Racial segregation in its modern form started in the late 1800's and provides a means of maintaining the economic advantages and superior social status of the politically and socially dominant group, and in recent times it has been employed primarily by the white populations to maintain their ascendancy over other groups by means of legal and social color bars.

Segregation was an attempt by white Southerners to separate the races in every sphere of life and to achieve supremacy over blacks. Segregation was often called the Jim Crow system, after a minstrel show character from the 1830s who was an old, crippled, black slave who embodied negative stereotypes of blacks. Segregation became common in Southern states following the end of Reconstruction in 1877. By 1877 the Democratic Party had gained control of government in the Southern states, and these Southern Democrats wanted to reverse black advances made during Reconstruction. To that end, they began to pass local and state laws that specified certain places "For Whites Only" and others for "Colored." Blacks had separate schools, transportation, restaurants, and parks, many of which were poorly funded and inferior to those of whites.

The challenge to segregation in schools came to the courts in the famed case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka Kansas. It challenged the previous court ruling, Plessy v. Ferguson, which upheld "the separate but equal" standard in public education. In 1954 Brown overruled Plessy and the notion of separate but equal was discredited as being separate but not equal. The court ruled that segregation was wrong but left...
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