‘Segregation Had to Be Invented’

It’s easy to see how segregated many cities in the American South still are today. Some may even think it has always been this way, but that is entirely false–segregation had to be invented. For a brief period of time, spanning from the end of the Civil War to the turn of the 20th century, black and white people in the south used to live alongside each other, creating what historian Tom Hanchett describes as a “salt-and-pepper” pattern. If you were to walk around Atlanta in the late 1800s you would have seen black and white people together: in restaurants, hotels and the theater. Two decades later, all these things were illegal. In 1894, black Republicans and white Populists joined to form a “fusion ticket” of candidates to oppose Southern Democrats. This union shocked the political establishment of its day after it won two-thirds of the seats in the legislature. Determined to never again let this happen, Southern Democrats set into motion a plan to quickly return to power, and did so through physical intimidation, the murdering of black residents, and even forcing a mayor and police chief to resign at gunpoint. Southern Democrats then looked for ways to guarantee they would remain in power. This was accomplished by making sure blacks could no longer vote, and by making poor whites feel superior to their black counterparts. The resulting invention of segregation took nearly 70 years to establish: through the implementation of Jim Crow laws in the early 1900s, the strict redlining policy of the 1930s, which made it impossible for blacks to own homes in certain areas, and the federal highway construction programs of the 1960s and 70s, which displaced majority black neighborhoods to the outskirts of cities. This clearly racist system was built on a lie…a lie that had to be taught…that white people are superior, and black people deserve less. This is a learned behavior, one that has taken hold, and never lost its grip. This system of discrimination and segregation must be exposed for what it is, and the damaging legacy it has left behind. Read More Here