United States and Racial Segregation

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According to the definition of segregation used in US history, it is the isolation of individuals or groups of objects from the general population. Religion, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality are all used as means of division. The minority group is made up of those who are separated from the majority group. When a certain group is kept apart from the majority because of their ethnicity, this is referred to as racial segregation. It has been an existential problem for the longest period of time in American history. People of color faced discrimination in the white communities (blacks, Asians, and Indians). Social facilities and services, including housing, healthcare, employment, and education, were segregated based on race (Younge, 2017). This paper discusses in depth about racial segregation in the United States, how it came to exist, those who advocated for it or against it and one event that marked the end of legalized segregation in the United States. It discussed the journey and the reforms that have been made along the way in the quest to completely end racial segregation.

Up to the 1960’s, a majority of the states in America practiced racial segregation by enforcing laws which were commonly referred to as “Jim Crow” rules. Civil rules of segregation were imposed, and severe punishment was given to anyone who practiced any inter-race interactions. There were strict rules to prevent whites from mixing with blacks by ensuring each of them stuck to their public and private facilities. However, most of these rules oppressed the black people. Particularly in Birmingham, Alabama, an influential campaign was launched in 1963 to end segregation ("Examples of Jim Crow laws - October 1960 - Civil Rights - A Jackson Sun Special Report", 2017).

Between the second and fifth of May 1963, hundreds of children marched to protest segregation, a brave step which eventually proved successful. Men, women and children alike marched forward in the quest to defend the rights of the black community in Birmingham, Alabama. The success of the campaign was as a result of those children, even as young as seven, who put their lives on the line for freedom. The nonviolent army had many members. However, not all of them were deployed to sit in the march. This shows that the protest had involved a disciplined process of preparation. Even the children that joined the march were identified as those who could participate in nonviolent resistance (Lane, 2015).

The civil rights activism had started way before just that at that time in Alabama it met more supporters including minors. They wanted to do more than their parents had done for freedom. They knew that the worst that could happen was them getting killed by the Ku Klux Klan, the government army that used police dogs and high-pressure hose pipes on the youngest of children that marched in the protest. The number of people willing to protest for freedom massively increased at that particular time, an act which drew the interest of President John F Kennedy (Younge, 2017).

The Birmingham protests were marked by numerous students demonstrating on the only lunch counter specifically meant for the whites. What was thought to be just a demonstration, later turned out as one of the largest mass movements of the century. The most interesting fact about the march was that it created global influence. The effects were not only felt in Alabama but also in every other region with racial segregation.

The media which had initially ignored stories on civil rights started publishing them more as a result of the campaign. The disturbing images on the punishment imposed on minors attracted more activists who saw to it that the civil rights were amended favorably. The percentage of Americans who gave civil rights an interested ear increased as a result of televised scenes of children being bitten by police dogs, some of which succumbed to the injuries ("The Birmingham Campaign | Civil Rights Movement | Black History | PBS", 2017). Some of them were victims of being knocked off by the hose pipes.

May 1963 was not only a day when the most influential movement on racial civil rights took place, but it was also a mark to the beginning of a new era. An era where skin color does not define who gets the best medical attention. An era where black and white could share hospitals, railroads, schools, restaurants and even intermarry ("The Birmingham Campaign | Civil Rights Movement | Black History | PBS", 2017). The march of May 1963 was successful because it led to the legal reforms against segregation. However, even if segregation was against the law, old-fashioned individuals may find it hard not to discriminate people because they are of the black race. Therefore, racial segregation is not something that can be done with because of a single event. Series of reforms continue to be implemented to ensure that the United States’ citizens peacefully exist without baseless divisions along racial lines. The improvements have been characterized by more inter-race interactions between black and whites. They include business partnerships and intermarriages.

The march of children between second and fifth of May, marked the success of the Birmingham campaign since local officials agreed to their terms. They started by removing ‘white only’ and ‘black only’ signs from public facilities. A job improvement plan was created for black people as all races embraced the freedom era.

Initially, there was legal segregation in schools which was abolished the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which was arrived at after continuous Supreme Court decisions (Younge, 2017). Earlier in 1961, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), after criticism that they did not participate in the fight against racial segregation, got involved and started The Albany Movement that lasted from 1961 to 1967. This was also a non-violent movement which continued to fight for the rights of black people. Similar events such as the march on Washington and the Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1964 encouraged a national uproar against racial segregation. This was after abduction and murder of three activists, among them a black man who was beaten and shot three times by members of the Ku Klux Klan (Lane, 2015). Besides equality in the usage of social amenities, the citizens also fought for their voting rights as blacks. This led to the implementation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which allowed blacks to vote without discrimination.

The events were followed by significant race riots and civil rights movement which led to the freedom America experiences today. There were significant changes and reforms to end segregation, but it still exists in varying degrees up to date. However, America has come a long way to bring segregation to an end, and those efforts remain significant.


Examples of Jim Crow laws - October 1960 - Civil Rights - A Jackson Sun Special Report. (2017). Ferris.edu. Retrieved 25 January 2017, from http://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/links/misclink/examples/homepage.htm

Lane, A. (2015) Nonviolence now! (1st ed.).

The Birmingham Campaign | Civil Rights Movement | Black History | PBS. (2017). the Birmingham Campaign | Civil Rights Movement | Black History | PBS. Retrieved 25 January 2017, from http://www.pbs.org/black-culture/explore/civil-rights-movement-birmingham-campaign/#.WIkpN1UrLDc

Younge, G. (2017). 1963: the defining year of the civil rights movement. The Guardian. Retrieved 25 January 2017, from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/may/07/1963-defining-year-civil-rights

April 06, 2023
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