Siteseen Logo

Black Segregation History


Black Segregation History: This article contain facts about black segregation history in the United States of America.

Definition of Segregation
Summary and Definition: Segregation is a social system that provides separate facilities for minority groups. The term 'segregation' in the United States history refers to Racial Segregation referring to the legal or socially enforced separation of African Americans from the white American population.
Racial segregation in America involved the physical separation and provision of separate facilities and included other forms of racial discrimination, such as unfair treatment in relation to obtaining jobs and education, on the basis of prejudice.

Black Segregation History for kids: Segregation before the Civil War
Black Segregation history began before the Civil War in the towns and cities in both the North and the South. The reason for segregation in the cities was to ensure that to ensure that Blacks Americans lived apart from White Americans. During the Slavery Era the majority of Black Americans lived in the rural locations in the South where it was necessary to implement segregation schemes - southern black slaves were automatically isolated from White Americans by the plantation system and the practice of slavery.

This was not the case in the cities of the Northern states. Racial segregation systems were developed in the Northern towns and cities to ensure that African Americans were given a subordinate status to White Americans. This was achieved by denying them equal access to public facilities used by whites such as public transport on streetcars and railroads and banning Black Americans from hotels, theaters, museums and restaurants.

As blacks were poorly paid they lived in different neighborhoods and attended segregated churches. The Dred Scott Court Decision in 1857, which stated that slaves were not citizens but the property of their owners, was seen as justifying the subordinate status of Black Americans, whether they were free or slaves.

Black Segregation History for kids: Segregation during the Civil War (1861-1865)
Black Segregation history continued during the Civil War. At the beginning of the Civil War, the national government refused to allow blacks to fight in the U. S. military, it was discrimination based on color and race. This form of black segregation and discrimination continued when in 1862 when the United States government allowed blacks to enlist, but in segregated units, led by white officers.
The black soldiers were only paid half of what the white soldiers were paid in the Civil War.

Black Segregation History for kids: The 1862 Homestead Act
The succession of the Southern States provided a clear path for passing the 1862 Homestead Act which
Abolitionists believed could help to destroy the practice and institution of slavery, segregation and racial discrimination by giving away free farming land. 

Black Segregation History for kids: Constitutional Amendments after the Civil War
After the Civil War three important amendments were made to the Constitution:

  • The 13th Amendment (1865) ended slavery

  • The 14th Amendment (1868) dealt with Civil Rights and asserted that there were equal protection rights of all US citizens including those that were part of a minority group. The Fourteenth amendment nullified part of the Dred Scott decision and prohibiting state laws that denied citizens equal protection under the laws

  • The 15th Amendment (1870), prohibited racial discrimination in voting stating that a citizen's right to vote cannot be taken away because of race, the color of their skin, or because they were previously slaves 

Black Segregation History 1865 & 1866: The Black Codes
Segregation History: The issue of slavery might have been addressed but Black Segregation history but racial discrimination and segregation escalated.
In 1865 and 1866 a series of laws called the Black Codes were passed to restrict the ex-slaves new found freedom. The Black Codes restricted the freedom of Black Americans by restricting the right to own property, buy and lease land, conduct business and move freely through public spaces. The Black Codes also discriminated against Black Americans with different laws and punishments, the laws banned them from bearing arms and prevented them from voting or serving on juries.

Black Segregation History 1865 for kids: The Freedmen's Bureau
The Freedmen's Bureau Bill was passed on March 3, 1865 to establish a temporary government agency to help and protect emancipated slaves (freedmen) in the South during their transition from a life of slavery to a life of freedom. The Freedman's Bureau provided food, housing and medical aid and established schools and offered legal assistance. The Freedmen's Bureau was hated by the Southerners as it also operated as a political mechanism, organizing the black vote for the Republican party. The Freedmen's Bureau closed in 1869.

Black Segregation History 1865: The Sharecropping System
Segregation History: The Sharecropping system that employed tenant farmers became widespread during the period of Reconstruction. The Sharecroppers provided labor for the plantation owners after the Civil War, and the farm owners, provided everything else - at a price. The plantation landlords owned the land, cabins, the tools and equipment, the animals and the seeds to grow the crops.  The landlords enforced strict labor conditions on the sharecroppers. The system resulted in a low standard of living for the tenant farmers in conditions that were little better than slavery with no hope of escaping constant debt and the poverty trap. Black segregation and racial discrimination were common features of the Sharecropping System.

Black Segregation History 1866: The 1866 Southern Homestead Act
Segregation History: The 1866 Southern Homestead Act was passed to allow poor tenant farmers and sharecroppers in the south to become land owners during reconstruction. The law that opened up 46 million acres of public land in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi. The purpose of the legislation was to provide the opportunity to former slaves to buy farmland for themselves. There was massive Southern opposition to the black landownership and the sharecropping system made it impossible for most black African Americans to participate in the scheme. The Freedmen's Bureau completely failed in establishing the freed slaves as landowners in the South. The Southern Homestead Act was repealed by Congress in June 1876, before too much land was distributed.

Black Segregation History 1866: The 1866 Civil Rights Act
Segregation History: The Civil Rights Act of 1866 was designed to protect ex-slaves from legislation such as the Black Codes but it was vetoed by President Andrew Johnson who stated that blacks were not qualified for United States citizenship and that the bill would "operate in favor of the colored and against the white race." Congress was outraged and overrode the President's veto and passed the Civil Rights Act on April 9, 1866. By 1868 most Southern states had repealed the Black Code laws and access to streetcars and railroads began on an integrated basis. Black Americans also gained access to auditoriums and theaters but discrimination continued as they had to occupy separate sections.

Black Segregation History 1865: The Ku Klux Klan
Segregation History: The 1866 Civil Rights Act led
to violent acts of vigilantism and increased the membership of secret organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan. The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was founded by White Supremacists and its purpose was to maintain racial segregation in the South. The Ku Klux Klan used terror tactics and acts of extreme violence against Black Americans including arson, whippings,  lynching, murder, rape, and bombing.

Black Segregation History 1870 for kids: The Enforcement Acts
Segregation History: In 1870 the federal government stepped in to investigate the activities of the Ku Klux Klan. As a result of the investigations the Enforcement Acts of 1870/1871 (including the Ku Klux Klan Act) were passed. The Enforcement Acts consisted of several important Civil Rights Acts to implement and extend the fundamental guarantees of the Constitution to all citizens and protect African Americans from violence carried out by the Ku Klux Klan. The Enforcement Acts made night-riding a crime, empowered the president to use federal troops to put down conspirators by force and provided penalties for people convicted of conspiracies with the intention of denying others their civil rights.

Black Segregation History 1874: The White League
Segregation History: The White League was an American white paramilitary group that started in Louisiana in 1874. The members operated in the open, sought newspaper coverage. The objective of the White League was to prevent freedmen from voting and participating in political activities. Through violence and intimidation, its paramilitary members reduced Republican voting and contributed to the Democrats' taking over control of the Louisiana Legislature in 1876. A similar group called the Red Shirts was started in Mississippi in 1875.

Black Segregation History 1875: The 1875 Civil Rights Act Fails
Segregation History: The Civil Rights Act of 1875 was a law to protect all citizens in their civil and legal rights. The Civil Rights Act of 1875 was an another step in the struggle for racial equality but it was not enforced, and the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional in 1883 and gave constitutional foundation to the Jim Crow Laws enabling racial discrimination, inequality and racial bigotry to survive in the name of states’ rights, until the 1960s.

Black Segregation History 1879: The Exodusters
Segregation History: The Homestead Law was opening the state of Kansas up for settlement. To escape intimidation by the Ku Klux Klan, the White League and the Red Shirts, and racial discrimination and segregation practices, a mass migration of thousands of African Americans from the southern states along the Mississippi River to Kansas was organized in 1879 by Benjamin "Pap" Singleton. The newspapers called it “an Exodus" comparing it to the Hebrews escape from Egyptian bondage. The black migrants were subsequently called the Exodusters.

Black Segregation History 1880's for kids: The Jim Crow Laws Legalize Segregation in the South
Segregation History: The Jim Crow Laws legalized segregation between black and white Americans. The Jim Crow Laws were a series of different laws enacted by Southern states during the 1880s that excluded African Americans from exercising their rights as citizens of the United States.  The Jim Crow Laws were typified by the "Whites Only" and "Colored Only" signs and restricted the rights of African Americans:

  • Public Transport: Segregation measures on Steamboats, Railroads and Streetcars requiring separate seating areas for black riders with separate waiting rooms and toilet facilities

  • Schools and Education: Prohibiting black and white children from attending the same schools

  • Voting: Tests were introduced in an attempt to eliminate the black vote by applying poll taxes, literacy tests, and the "grandfather clause"

  • Marriage: Prohibiting a person of "pure white blood" from marrying or engaging in "illicit carnal intercourse" with anyone with African blood

  • Segregation in Public Places: Segregation in libraries, hotels, restaurants, bars, hospitals, theaters, parks, beaches and restrooms. The Jim Crow Laws also segregated cemeteries and prisons

  • The Jim Crow Laws also made it difficult for black people to find decent employment

Black Segregation History 1880's - 1890's: Lynching
Black Segregation history and racial discrimination took a violent turn in the 1880's as racial violence escalated. The lynching of Black people in the South became a a common method used by whites to terrorize Blacks and maintain white supremacy. Lynching was a violent method of illegal execution carried out by mobs. Between 1890 and 1899, there was an average of 187 lynchings carried out by mobs every year. The largest number of lynchings occurred in 1892 when 230 people were lynched, 80% of the victims were African Americans. The practice of lynching decreased in the 1900's and was eventually addressed in 1922 by the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill.

Black Segregation History 1896: Plessy vs. Ferguson - Federal government Sanctions Racial Segregation
Segregation History: The Federal government Sanctions Racial Segregation in 1896 as a result of the Plessy vs. Ferguson Case. The Plessy vs. Ferguson case of 1896 in which the  Supreme Court decided that "separate but equal" facilities satisfied the 14th Amendment guarantees, thus giving legal sanction to "Jim Crow" segregation laws. Private organizations and businesses, such as hotels, theaters, and railroads, were free to practice segregation. In 1954, the Supreme Court justices in Brown v. the Board of Education reversed the decision made in the Plessy case by making the decision that legally sanctioned racial segregation was inherently unequal and a violation of the 14th Amendment.

Black Segregation History 1900's: Race Riots, NAACP and the Harlem Rennaissance
Segregation History: Lynchings decreased but the 1900's saw the emergence of a new type racial violence in which white mobs attacked entire Black communities - the race riots that occurred in the period surrounding WW1 and coincided with the
Resurgence of the 1920's Ku Klux Klan. Large-scale inter-racial violence escalated in the cities with the increasing levels of migration of Black Americans from the South. The most serious race riots were those which occurred in 1906 in Atlanta, St. Louis in 1917, Chicago in 1919 and Tulsa in 1921. The Springfield race riots in 1908 led to the founding of the NAACP. The 1920's saw the emergence of the Harlem Renaissance and Marcus Garvey.

Black Segregation History 1913: Racial Segregation in Government Offices
Black Segregation history continued when in 1913 the federal government, under President Wilson, imposed racial segregation in government offices in Washington, D.C. This federal policy of Racial segregation was not be reversed until the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s.

Black Segregation History for kids: World War 2
The Segregation history in America continued. As the United States entered World War II (1939-1945), the South was a fully segregated society. Segregation was still a policy of the U. S. military. At the beginning of WWII Black Americans were assigned to non-combat units and relegated to service duties, such as maintenance, and transportation. The situation changed towards the end of the war as troop losses virtually forced the U.S. military to place African American soldiers into combat positions in the army, navy and air force. In 1948, President Harry S. Truman issued an executive order de-segregating the armed forces.

Black Segregation History 1954: The African-American Civil Rights Movement
After WW2 Segregation was still rife in the United States. In 1947 the first "Freedom Riders" tested the laws of interstate bus travel in the segregated South. The African-American Civil Rights Movement emerged in 1954. Their goal was to end racial segregation and discrimination against black Americans, particularly in the South.

The segregation practices in the school systems were challenged in 1954 in the Brown vs. Board of Education case. The result of the legal case was that the Supreme Court banned the practice of school segregation

In 1955 Rosa Parks bravely refused to give up her seat and was ejected from a racially segregated bus. Her action Rosa Parks led her to follow the path of a civil rights activist. Rosa Parks was later referred to as "Mother of the Modern-Day Civil Rights Movement" by the U.S. Congress

Martin Luther King became the president of the Montgomery Improvement Association in 1955 which was organized due to protests against the incident involving Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott began.

Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1957 to ensure that all African Americans could exercise their right to vote.

In 1957 President Dwight Eisenhower sent in the National Guard to enforce integration of Little Rock's Central High School in the face of violent White opposition to de-segregation

The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was founded in 1960 and organized 'Sit-ins' and Freedom Rides throughout the Deep South

In 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King organized a massive peace protest in the heavily segregated city of Birmingham, Alabama. It resulted in violence when  Birmingham’s commissioner "Bull" Connor ordered the crack down on protesters using water cannons and vicious police dogs. Dr. Martin Luther King was arrested together with hundreds of other protestors

In 1963 Martin Luther King meets with President John F. Kennedy and after their meeting JFK fully endorses the civil rights movement. Dr. King then delivers his famous "I Have a Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to a crowd estimated at 250,000 that joined in the March on Washington

Black Segregation History for kids: 1964 Civil Rights Act Bans Segregation
Segregation History: President Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963, but the new president, Lyndon B. Johnson, honored his commitment to the civil rights movement. Lyndon B. Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that banned segregation and discrimination based on race, nationality, or gender.

Black Segregation History: 24th Amendment, Freedom Summer Campaign and the 1965 Voting Rights Act
Segregation History: The 24th Amendment was passed in 1964 making it illegal to make anyone pay a tax to have the right to vote. The Freedom Summer campaign  was organized by SNCC activists who traveled to Mississippi to register more black voters resulted in more violence. President Johnson responded by passing the Voting Rights Act to safeguard the right to vote of Black Americans. The
Voting Rights Act of 1965  banned the use of literacy tests.

Black Segregation History: The Death of Martin Luther King and the End of the Civil Rights Movement
Segregation History: Dr. Martin Luther King was shot and killed by James Earl Ray on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. The MLK Assassination of this peaceful man was a great shock to the nation. The rise of Black revolutionaries such as Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael and the Black Panthers together with the violence of the race riots created fear in America and effectively ended the civil rights movement in 1968.

US American History
1866-1881: Reconstruction Era
Black Segregation Timeline
Abolitionist Movement

ⓒ 2017 Siteseen Limited

First Published

Cookies Policy


Updated 2018-01-01

Publisher Siteseen Limited

Privacy Statement