What we don’t know about the North!

Northern cities such as New York City have been the center for civil rights struggles, providing a platform for activists to voice their calls for justice and equality. From the peaceful protests of the Stonewall Riots to the large-scale Black Lives Matter movement demonstrations. With the help of organizations like the NAACP, local activists have worked to ensure the rights of marginalized communities by fighting to pass legislation, advocating for social and economic justice, and engaging in direct action. 

The Civil Rights Movement is not entirely a movement of the American South. In 1965, the riots that took place in northern cities marked the transition of the call for liberty and equality to the northern part of the nation. Even though that racial segregation was “a peculiarly southern problem”, even white northerners soon came to realize that racial prejudice is actually a nationwide problem and that blacks are demanding equality in America not just in the south. Some think that segregation has only existed in the south, but black resistance has been prevalent in the north too. African Americans suffered from “de facto discrimination in housing, schooling, and employment–discrimination” which means that blacks and whites had separate facilities but not overtly and unintentionally. However, that does not mean that segregation was less prevailed in the American North. It was not until “1968–fourteen years after the Brown v. Board of Education decision–federal courts began to order busing as a way to deal with de facto segregation brought about by housing patterns”. Many white northerners pushed the fight against racial injustices to the south, instead of advocating it in the North. However, as soon as the movement shifted toward the north, it became undeniable that racial segregation exists across the nation and was not limited to the borders of the southern states. Protests and rallies took many forms and tactics; nonviolent civil disobedience and marches, boycotts, and meetings with officials…

Historically, Northern racism was ignored and undocumented. But black activists had challenged school segregation and inequality, protested housing segregation, and confronted police brutality. School segregation, however, was heavily present in New York City. Rather than advocating for the desegregation of schools, the Board of Education of the City of New York has formed a committee to investigate whether it was necessary to act on these “racially integrated schools”. Despite the ruling after the brown decision, the supreme court mandates that it might not necessarily apply to the city’s schools. Some white northerners describe the racial segregation in the north as different or rather “a natural segregation”. 

I definitely was surprised by the ignorance of the northerners on the social and systemic racism during the civil rights era. I have always learned the history that African Americans fleeing the South to find freedom and equality in the north and that liberals were allies to the black activists pushing forward to achieving racial justice and equality.

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