Desegregation

Desegregation

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Desegregation is the process of ending the separation of two groups usually referring to races. This is most commonly used in reference to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. Desegregation was long a focus of the American Civil Rights Movement
African-American Civil Rights Movement (1955-1968)
The African-American Civil Rights Movement refers to the movements in the United States aimed at outlawing racial discrimination against African Americans and restoring voting rights to them. This article covers the phase of the movement between 1955 and 1968, particularly in the South...

, both before and after the United States Supreme Court's
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 decision in Brown v. Board of Education
Brown v. Board of Education
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 , was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court that declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students unconstitutional. The decision overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896 which...

, particularly desegregation of the school systems and the military (See Military history of African Americans
Military history of African Americans
The military history of African Americans spans from the arrival of the first black slaves during the colonial history of the United States to the present day...

). Racial integration
Racial integration
Racial integration, or simply integration includes desegregation . In addition to desegregation, integration includes goals such as leveling barriers to association, creating equal opportunity regardless of race, and the development of a culture that draws on diverse traditions, rather than merely...

 of society was a closely related goal.

Segregation after the Civil War


After the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, during Reconstruction, a series of constitutional amendments were passed which ended slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

, granted citizenship to Blacks, and prohibited race or former slavery's being a barrier to voting:
  • The Thirteenth
    Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
    The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution officially abolished and continues to prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. It was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, passed by the House on January 31, 1865, and adopted on December 6, 1865. On...

     prohibited slavery.
  • The Fourteenth
    Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
    The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments.Its Citizenship Clause provides a broad definition of citizenship that overruled the Dred Scott v...

    , among other things, granted citizenship
    Citizenship
    Citizenship is the state of being a citizen of a particular social, political, national, or human resource community. Citizenship status, under social contract theory, carries with it both rights and responsibilities...

     to everyone born in the United States, assuming they are "subject to the jurisdiction thereof."
  • The Fifteenth
    Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
    The Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits each government in the United States from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen's "race, color, or previous condition of servitude"...

     guaranteed citizens the right to vote regardless of race or previous condition of servitude.


Together these amendments enabled freedmen to participate as citizens in the political process during Reconstruction. On both a per capita and absolute basis, more blacks were elected to political office (including local offices) from 1865 to 1880 than at any other time in American history. After the disbanding of the Freedmens Bureau and other Reconstruction institutions after southern states were readmitted to the union, in 1877, white Democrats regained power in southern states and passed laws making voter registration more complicated. Although the laws applied to all, the result was that blacks and poor whites were effectively disfranchised. White Democrats then passed Jim Crow laws that established segregation as a principle in all public facilities and aspects of life in the South, for instance, the infamous separate water fountains for whites and blacks.

For years, the Supreme Court upheld state laws related to vote registration and elections, as states had the authority to regulate these conditions. Gradually in individual cases starting in 1915, the Supreme Court ruled against provisions of states' legislation or constitutions, for instance, ruling that the grandfather clause
Grandfather clause
Grandfather clause is a legal term used to describe a situation in which an old rule continues to apply to some existing situations, while a new rule will apply to all future situations. It is often used as a verb: to grandfather means to grant such an exemption...

 (1915) and white primary (1944) were unconstitutional. Because of the difficulty of litigation and continuing states' attempts to restrict voting by Blacks and other minorities, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to protect and enforce all citizen access to voter registration and elections, a century after the end of the Civil War.

In 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Plessy v. Ferguson
Plessy v. Ferguson
Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 , is a landmark United States Supreme Court decision in the jurisprudence of the United States, upholding the constitutionality of state laws requiring racial segregation in private businesses , under the doctrine of "separate but equal".The decision was handed...

that the Fourteenth Amendment did not require facilities to be racially integrated as long as they were equal (the situation was for railways, but was applied most famously to schools). The separate but equal
Separate but equal
Separate but equal was a legal doctrine in United States constitutional law that justified systems of segregation. Under this doctrine, services, facilities and public accommodations were allowed to be separated by race, on the condition that the quality of each group's public facilities was to...

 doctrine prevailed for over a half-century until in 1954 the Supreme Court reversed the earlier ruling in Brown v. Board of Education
Brown v. Board of Education
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 , was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court that declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students unconstitutional. The decision overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896 which...

, in which the court found that racially separate facilities were inherently unequal.

In 1909 the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, usually abbreviated as NAACP, is an African-American civil rights organization in the United States, formed in 1909. Its mission is "to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to...

 (NAACP) was founded to secure civil justice, and to foster racial integration and fair treatment toward citizens of color. Black intellectual W. E. B. Du Bois was one of the founders, as was journalist Ida Tarbell. The NAACP led litigation of cases to get challenges to the Supreme Court, such as Guinn v. United States
Guinn v. United States
Guinn v. United States, 238 U.S. 347 , was an important United States Supreme Court decision that dealt with provisions of state constitutions that set qualifications for voters. It found grandfather clause exemptions to literacy tests to be unconstitutional...

in 1915, leading to striking down of grandfather clause
Grandfather clause
Grandfather clause is a legal term used to describe a situation in which an old rule continues to apply to some existing situations, while a new rule will apply to all future situations. It is often used as a verb: to grandfather means to grant such an exemption...

s. In addition, the NAACP led an array of public education efforts, continued lobbying of Congress, and encouragement of writing and dramas by blacks.

Important groups working on social justice and civil rights later were the Urban League, Congress of Racial Equality
Congress of Racial Equality
The Congress of Racial Equality or CORE was a U.S. civil rights organization that originally played a pivotal role for African-Americans in the Civil Rights Movement...

, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Southern Christian Leadership Conference
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference is an African-American civil rights organization. SCLC was closely associated with its first president, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr...

. Members of many Jewish groups joined in the struggle, especially among secular groups and Reform
Reform
Reform means to put or change into an improved form or condition; to amend or improve by change of color or removal of faults or abuses, beneficial change, more specifically, reversion to a pure original state, to repair, restore or to correct....

 and Conservative congregations. Some trade unions supported civil rights, although most unions had historically vigorously opposed entry by black workers, as white workers viewed black labor as competition.

Militias and US Army


Starting with King Phillip's war in the 17th century, blacks fought and died alongside whites in an integrated environment in the North American colonies. They continued to fight in every American war integrated with whites up until the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

. They would not fight in integrated units again (except in Confederate forces) until the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

.

During the Civil War, Blacks enlisted in large numbers. They were mostly enslaved blacks who escaped in the South, although there were many northern black Unionists as well. More than 180,000 blacks served with the Union Army and Navy during the Civil War, in segregated units known as the US Colored Troops, under the command of white officers. They were recorded and are part of the National Park Service
National Park Service
The National Park Service is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations...

's Civil War Soldiers & Sailors System (CWSS).

While a handful of Blacks were commissioned as officers in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, white officers remained the rule in that conflict. The NAACP lobbied the government to commission more black officers. During WWII, most officers were white and most black troops still served only as truck drivers and as stevedore
Stevedore
Stevedore, dockworker, docker, dock labourer, wharfie and longshoreman can have various waterfront-related meanings concerning loading and unloading ships, according to place and country....

s. The Red Ball Express was made up almost exclusively of African-American truck drivers and the Red Ball Express was famous for being the only supply forces that could keep up with the rapid advances of General George S. Patton
George S. Patton
George Smith Patton, Jr. was a United States Army officer best known for his leadership while commanding corps and armies as a general during World War II. He was also well known for his eccentricity and controversial outspokenness.Patton was commissioned in the U.S. Army after his graduation from...

's troops as they raced across France. In the midst of the Battle of the Bulge in late 1944, General Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

 was severely short of replacement troops for existing military units—all of which were totally white in composition. Consequently, he made the decision to allow African-American soldiers to pick up a gun and join the white military units to fight in combat for the first time. This was the first step toward a desegregated United States military. Eisenhower's decision in this case was strongly opposed by his own army chief of staff, Lieutenant General Walter Bedell Smith
Walter Bedell Smith
Walter Bedell "Beetle" Smith was a senior United States Army general who served as General Dwight D. Eisenhower's chief of staff at Allied Forces Headquarters during the Tunisia Campaign and the Allied invasion of Italy...

. Indeed, it was stated that Bedell Smith was outraged by the decision and had said that the American public take offense at the integration of the military units.

In 1948, President Harry S Truman's Executive Order 9981
Executive Order 9981
Executive Order 9981 is an executive order issued on July 26, 1948 by U.S. President Harry S. Truman. It expanded on Executive Order 8802 by establishing equality of treatment and opportunity in the Armed Services for people of all races, religions, or national origins."In 1947, Randolph, along...

 ordered the integration of the armed forces shortly after World War II, a major advance in civil rights. Using the Executive Order (E.O.) meant that Truman could bypass Congress. Representatives of the Solid South
Solid South
Solid South is the electoral support of the Southern United States for the Democratic Party candidates for nearly a century from 1877, the end of Reconstruction, to 1964, during the middle of the Civil Rights era....

, all white Democrats, would likely have stonewalled related legislation.

For instance, in May 1948, Richard B. Russell, Democratic Senator from Georgia, attached an amendment to the Selective Services bill then being debated in Congress. The Russell amendment would have granted draftees and new inductees an opportunity to choose whether or not they wanted to serve in segregated military units. Russell's amendment was defeated in committee. Truman signed Executive Order 9981 on July 26, 1948. In June 1950 when the Selective Services Law came up for renewal, Russell tried again to attach his segregation amendment, and again Congress defeated it.

At the end of June 1950, the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 broke out. The U.S. Army had accomplished little desegregation in peacetime and sent the segregated Eighth Army to defend South Korea. Most black soldiers served in segregated support units in the rear. The remainder served in segregated combat units, most notably the 24th Infantry Regiment. The first months of the Korean War were some of the most disastrous in U.S. military history. The North Korean People's Army nearly drove the American-led United Nations forces off the Korean peninsula. Faced with staggering losses in white units, commanders on the ground began accepting black replacements, thus integrating their units. The practice occurred all over the Korean battle lines and proved that integrated combat units could perform under fire. The Army high command took notice. On July 26, 1951, the US Army formally announced its plans to desegregate, exactly three years after Truman issued Executive Order 9981.

Soon Army officials required Morning Reports (the daily report of strength accounting and unit activity required of every unit in the Army on active duty) of units in Korea to include the line "NEM XX OTHER EM XX TOTAL EM XX", where XX was the number of Negro and Other races, in the section on enlisted strength. The Form 20s for enlisted personnel recorded race. For example, the percentage of Black Enlisted Personnel in the 4th Signal Battalion was maintained at about 14 % from September 1951 to November 1952, mostly by clerks' selectively assigning replacements by race. Morning Report clerks of this battalion assumed that all units in Korea were doing the same. The Morning Reports were classified "RESTRICTED" in those years.

Sailors and US Navy


Black naval service stretches back to the beginnings of the nation. Thousands of black men fought on the side of rebellious colonists in the American Revolutionary War, many in the new Continental Navy. Their names, accomplishments or total numbers are unknown because of poor record keeping.

Blacks also participated in the Union Navy during the American Civil War. Many were enslaved blacks who escaped to Union lines. About 18,000 blacks were sailors with Union forces. They were recorded and are part of the National Park Service
National Park Service
The National Park Service is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations...

's War Soldiers & Sailors System (CWSS) (see External link below.) Upon entering office, President Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

 segregated the United States Navy. Before this, the Navy had never been segregated.

In WWII, the US Navy first experimented with integrating the USCGC Sea Cloud (WPG-284)
USCGC Sea Cloud (WPG-284)
USCGC Sea Cloud was a weather ship for the United States Coast Guard and United States Navy during World War II. The ship served as the first racially integrated warship in the United States Armed Forces since the American Civil War. Originally a private yacht, she was transferred to the Coast...

, then later the USS Mason
USS Mason (DE-529)
USS Mason , an Evarts-class destroyer escort, was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named Mason, though DE-529 was the only one specifically named for Ensign Newton Henry Mason. The USS Mason was one of two US Navy ships with largely African-American crews in World War II. The other...

, (both commanded by Carlton Skinner
Carlton Skinner
Carlton S. Skinner was the first civilian governor of Guam and a prominent advocate for the integration of the United States Armed Forces...

) a ship with black crew members and commanded by white officers. Some called it "Eleanor's folly," after President Franklin Roosevelt's wife. The Mason’s purpose was to allow black sailors to serve in the full range of billets (positions), rather than being restricted to stewards and messmen, as they were on most ships. The Navy had already been pressured to train black sailors for billets. Mrs. Roosevelt insisted that black sailors be given the jobs which they were trained to do. This experiment was a historic step on the long road to integration.

Impediments to integrated schools




In Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education
Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education
Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, 402 U.S. 1 was an important United States Supreme Court case dealing with the busing of students to promote integration in public schools...

(1971), the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that forced busing of students may be ordered to achieve racial desegregation. However, such court-enforced school desegregation efforts have decreased over time.

A major decline in manufacturing in northern cities, with a shift of jobs to suburbs, the South and overseas, has led shifts in numbers of residents of all races increasing in suburbs, plus major shifts in population from the North to the Southwest, Pacific Northwest, and South. Left behind in many northern and midwestern inner cities have been the poorest blacks and other minorities. According to Jonathan Kozol
Jonathan Kozol
Jonathan Kozol is a non-fiction writer, educator, and activist, best known for his books on public education in the United States. Kozol graduated from Noble and Greenough School in 1954, and Harvard University summa cum laude in 1958 with a degree in English Literature. He was awarded a Rhodes...

, in the early 21st century U.S. schools have again become as segregated as in the late 1960s.

According to the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University, the desegregation of U.S. public schools peaked in 1988; since then, schools have become more segregated. As of 2005, the proportion of Black students at majority white schools was at "a level lower than in any year since 1968."

Some critics of school desegregation have argued that court-enforced desegregation efforts were either unnecessary or self-defeating. Numerous middle-class and wealthy white people continued moving from cities to suburbs during the 1970s and later, in part to escape certain integrated school systems, but also as part of a suburbanization of the society, caused by movement of jobs to suburbs, continuing state and Federal support for expansion of highways, and changes in the economy.

Some white parents in Louisiana said that they were afraid to drop their children off because of all the mobs surrounding the desegregated schools.

Sociologist David Armor in court testimony and in his book Forced Justice: School Desegregation and the Law (1995) said that efforts to change the racial compositions of schools had not contributed substantially to academic achievement by minorities. Carl L. Bankston III and Stephen J. Caldas, in their books A Troubled Dream: The Promise and Failure of School Desegregation in Louisiana (2002) and Forced to Fail: The Paradox of School Desegregation (2005), argued that continuing racial inequality in the larger American society had undermined efforts to force schools to desegregate. They maintained that racial inequality had resulted in popular associations between school achievement and race. Therefore, the achievement levels of American schools were generally associated with their class and racial compositions. This meant that even parents without racial prejudice tended to seek middle class or better residential neighborhoods in seeking the best schools for their children. As a result, efforts to impose court-ordered desegregation often led to school districts in which there were too few white students for effective desegregation, as white students increasingly left for majority white suburban districts or for private schools.

Problems of a diverse society


The increasing diversity of American society has led to more complex issues related to school and ethnic proportion. In the 1994 federal court case Ho v. San Francisco Unified School District
Ho v. San Francisco Unified School District
Ho v. San Francisco Unified School District was a 1994 lawsuit by the Asian American Legal Foundation challenging the use of racial quotas limiting the enrollment of Chinese Americans by the San Francisco Unified School District...

, parents of Chinese-American schoolchildren alleged that racial quotas under a 1983 consent decree constituted racial discrimination in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. The desegregation plan did not allow any school to enroll more than 50 percent of any ethnic group. Originally intended to aid integration of blacks, the ruling had a negative effect on the admissions of Chinese students, who had become the largest ethnic group in the district.

Articles in the newspaper Asian Week documented the Chinese American parents' challenge.
Since Chinese Americans were already nearly half the student population, the consent decree had the effect of requiring competitive Lowell high school
Lowell High School (San Francisco)
Lowell High School is a public magnet school in San Francisco, California. The school opened in 1856 as the Union Grammar School and attained its current name in 1896. Lowell moved to its current location in the Merced Manor neighborhood in 1962....

 to apply much higher academic admission standards for Chinese-American students than other students. The civil rights group Chinese for Affirmative Action
Chinese for Affirmative Action
Chinese for Affirmative Action is a San Francisco-based advocacy organization. Founded in 1969, its initial goals were equality of access to employment and the creation of job opportunities for Chinese Americans. The group broadened its mission in the subsequent decades...

, led by Henry Der, sided with the school district. They argued that such standards were not harmful to Chinese Americans, and were necessary to avoid resegregation of schools. In 2006, Chinese parents continued to protest race-based school assignments.

See also

  • Achievement gap
    Achievement gap
    Achievement gap refers to the observed disparity on a number of educational measures between the performance of groups of students, especially groups defined by gender, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. The achievement gap can be observed on a variety of measures, including standardized...

  • American Civil Rights Movement (1896-1954)
    American Civil Rights Movement (1896-1954)
    The Civil Rights Movement in the United States was a long, primarily nonviolent struggle to bring full civil rights and equality under the law to all Americans...

  • Multiculturalism
    Multiculturalism
    Multiculturalism is the appreciation, acceptance or promotion of multiple cultures, applied to the demographic make-up of a specific place, usually at the organizational level, e.g...

  • Racial integration
    Racial integration
    Racial integration, or simply integration includes desegregation . In addition to desegregation, integration includes goals such as leveling barriers to association, creating equal opportunity regardless of race, and the development of a culture that draws on diverse traditions, rather than merely...

  • Timeline of the American Civil Rights Movement
    Timeline of the American Civil Rights Movement
    This is a timeline of African-American Civil Rights Movement.-Pre-17th century:1565*unknown – The colony of St...


External links