Civil Rights Movement Vs The North

Every student remembers learning about the Civil Rights Movement in history class. The Civil Rights Movement was a social movement during the 1950s and 1960s, whose goal was to eliminate racial discrimination and segregation that was happening throughout the United States. Schools, buses, restaurants, and even drinking fountains were all segregated areas throughout the south. This caused many different activists to stand up to these laws. Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr, and Malcolm X are just some of the people who stood up for their rights and fought against these Jim Crow laws. When people think about the Civil Rights Movement we automatically think about how the south was the main location of these violations, when in reality it was happening all over the United States. Racial discrimination and segregation were happening in the American North just as much as it was in the South, so why don’t we learn about this in History class? That is a question I would like to be answered. 

Major cities in the north like New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore were the locations where segregation was happening the worst. Segregation in schools wasn’t just happening in the south but also these major cities. When Brown vs Board was passed during the 1950s, the supreme court ruled that it was unconstitutional for schools to be segregated areas. “In the popular imaginations, Brown v. Board is posited as a challenge only to Southern school systems; resistance to the decision is pictured in the form of Southerners from Little Rock to Birmingham, not as Northern Mothers, Politicians, and parent groups, who also labored mightly to ensure that school desegregation would not come to their schools as well. (Theoharris,33)” This shows that the issue of segregation in schools wasn’t just a southern problem but northern liberals trying to disguise their racial remarks. 

Many school officials tried to suppress the decision of Brown v. Board. New York school superintendent, William Jensen, was an example. He directly instructed his staff to refer to the city’s segregated schools as “separate” or “racially imbalanced”, which are strong words coming from the head of the school system. “Schools educating Black Children in New York were heavily overcrowded and decrepit, with underqualified teachers(in many Black schools, most of the teachers were substitutes) and often lacking in sufficient materials or up-to-date facilities. (Theoharris,35)” Black teachers were also hired at a much lower rate compared to white teachers and were discriminated against heavily. He blamed the segregation of schools on housing segregation and that he had no control over fixing it. 

This was another issue that African American families were facing. Since the 1930s, the Home Owner’s Loan Corporations was mapping out different neighborhoods of the cities and giving them ratings. Each Neighborhood was given a rank between A-D, with D being the lowest rank and the most unsafe. Neighborhoods with more than 5% Black People were given C-D rankings while predominantly White neighborhoods were given A-B rankings. These high rankings allowed more white suburban development while trapping African Americans in poor undeveloped neighborhoods. Since these D neighborhoods were outlined in red this was known as “Redlining”. Which in some cases is still used in today’s world even with it being over 90 years since it started.

I was very surprised about the history of the Civil Rights Movement. I would have never thought that there would be so much discrimination going on in the north. During the Civil War, the north was the one who was fighting for the protection and equal rights of African Americans, but in reality, they were discriminated against. I feel like this history should be taught more in school because it exposes that there wasn’t really a good side to this fight.

One thought on “Civil Rights Movement Vs The North

  1. I think your post made a lot of good points about the kind of segregation and discrimination that was in the reading. The neighborhoods that black families lived in were redlined and that directly set them up for economic perils and continued to leave them segregated from white neighborhoods. Even the superintendent of a school district as large as one in New York was well aware of the political outcomes of possibly attempting to actually integrate schools and knew how to use certain language to avoid doing so. I do agree with you that learning about how much discrimination was occurring in the North was really shocking and even more so how they worked so hard to hide it.


Leave a Reply to tayab22 Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: