Segregation and the Civil Rights Movement

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How did segregation in the North differ from segregation in the South?

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Racial segregation existed throughout the United States, North, and South. As one historian of segregation has written, "no reflective historian any longer believes" that Northern states were innocent of the historical crimes of slavery and later segregation. By the twentieth century, Jim Crow laws were not generally on the books of Northern states and cities (though they had been in the nineteenth century.) Nor were racial attitudes as hardened in Northern states as in the Jim Crow South. But segregation, and the racist assumptions that undergirded it, existed north of the Mason-Dixon line too. The difference between segregation in the two regions is usually summarized as "de facto" versus "de jure." Southern racial hierarchies were in fact rigidly enforced by laws that established inflexible boundaries, intended not just to segregate but to establish and maintain white supremacy. In Northern cities in particular, though, segregation was enforced by other means. Neighborhoods,...

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