What was segregation and what effects did it have on southern communities?
Segregation, part of a system sometimes called "Jim Crow," was in force in the South from the late 1800s to the 1960s. Essentially, segregation combined statutory law and a collection of customs to enforce white supremacy through separating whites and African-Americans in public spaces. The effects were profound, and included almost every aspect of life in the South. African-Americans were not allowed to eat in the same areas as whites, they were barred from many hotels and public spaces, they attended different (usually inferior) schools, and in most states could not even be buried in the same cemeteries as whites. The effects were complex. On the one hand, segregation was clearly detrimental to African-Americans in the South. On the other, black men and women resisted segregation by establishing their own vibrant communities and institutions. But everywhere they turned, African-Americans saw reminders that those in positions of power deemed them second-class citizens, or not even citizens at all--every Southern state took steps to strip African-Americans of their voting rights as they established segregation laws. So segregation laws created communities divided along racial lines, but never equally--they were intended to establish and perpetuate white supremacy.