Residential Segregation of African Americans in 20th Century America

Topics: African American, Racial segregation, Urban decay Pages: 17 (6457 words) Published: May 14, 2012
In Twenty-First Century, modern America one can trace the effects of various actions and decisions of past government leaders and ordinary citizens in the shaping of the America we see today. Throughout human society, the conflicts, issues, and divisions among peoples, which one observes at any point in time, are not matters of chance, but are products of history, and forces of human undertaking. Today, American society is faced with a residential, geographic phenomenon among urban and suburban communities that disadvantages African American citizens through the discriminatory denial of residential and economic freedom, a Constitutional promise that is guaranteed to all Americans. Modern America is confronted with a socially and geographically segregated society structured on the hierarchies of race, having the greatest consequences for African American communities, the most segregated racial group in American society.

The Great Migration of the early twentieth century was a symbolic beacon of hope for African Americans leaving their homes in the rural South to a new land of promise in the urban North. While this migration created vast amounts of opportunity for African Americans that could have not existed in the Jim Crow-era South, the movements of these people would carry the racial divisions and hostilities of society to the level of a national plight. Northern whites implemented various practices in order to manipulate urban housing markets in the effect of restricting the residential mobility of African Americans and to confining African Americans to undesirable urban neighborhoods, and therefore setting the nature of race relations in northern communities and leading to the national development of twentieth century urban ghettos. In effect of this mass migration, racially motivated actions of individual American citizens, private housing institutions, and the federal, state, and local governments, would contribute to the persistent socioeconomic and residential disparities between white and black America, through efforts to residentially segregate urban communities on the basis of race. America would now be confronted with the consequences of urban ‘ghettoization,’ consequences which still persist to this day, and American society would establish the perpetuation of poverty among African American communities through the denial of equal access to employment, public education, and wealth, in effect, establishing systems of multi-faceted “hyersegregation,” those which, in the present continue to maintain the concentrated impoverishment of African American populations within urban ghettos. These American black ghettos are not a phenomenon that emerged by chance, but were geographical realities that emerged out of the willful actions put in place by White American society that denied African Americans equal access to housing mobility and attempted to reinforce the residential segregation of American metropolitan communities.

Prior to the twentieth century, a majority of the nation’s African Americans lived in the former slave states of the South, while a small minority of African Americans could be found in the urban North. At this time, in both the Southern and Northern regions of the country, housing was fairly integrated on conditions of race; African Americans in the South worked on white plantations and lived nearby, and the numbers of northern blacks were small enough for their presence to be largely undetected among white neighborhoods. At the break of the twentieth century, America began to see a small stream of African American migrants moving to northern cities, and by 1915, this small stream migration turned into an immense exodus of African American migrants who were pushed and pulled by various factors away from the South and into the North. The First Great Migration of the US, from 1915-1930, was, until WWII, the largest internal migration of citizens in United States history, with...
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