Segregation and the Civil Rights Movement Questions and Answers

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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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royalcourtier | Student

It is important to distinguish between residential segregation, and the segregation of facilities.

There was no legal segregation of places of residence in the south. From 1890 to 1965 there was segregation laws with respect to public facilities.

In the north there were no segregation laws with respect to public facilities. However there were many local rules and restrictions which resulted in residential segregation. Many developments banned non-whites. These private codes still remain in effect in many places, though they may not perhaps be enforced in practice.

 

gsenviro | Student

The "informal" or "de facto" segregation of the North differed from the "by law" or "de jure" segregation of South. 

In the North, the law was the same for everyone, however, discrimination was informally carried out. Public places such as transit (bus, train, etc.), accommodation (hotels, motels, etc.), restaurants, etc. could not stop anybody legally from patronizing the facility. However, blacks could be told that they were not welcome. The main segregation was evident in housing and school systems. White neighborhoods would not have any house either for purchase or rent to a non-white client, irrespective of his purchasing power. The agents would not show black people the property in white neighborhoods. Since schools were in the vicinity of residential areas, they were segregated too.

In the South, black people were second class citizens by law. Segregation by law was eliminated by a series of judgments by the Supreme Court.