The pervasive system of segregation



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Reading response 1: chapter 8


This chapter covers the period of the 1910s-1920s. The authors describe the pervasive system of segregation that was common during this period.  According to them, the system downgraded the black Washingtonians to second-class citizens. For that reason, segregation was influential in the undermining of black progress.  Besides, it also stifled black ambition in the early decades of the twentieth century. During this period, the US president was Woodrow Wilson, who institutionalized racial subordination within the federal government. During a decade, the policy was implemented when  Republican was in control of the Congress and the White House, respectively in the 1920s.  The whites living in Washington demonstrated their strength and resilience in many ways. Some of these ways include racial violence targeted at the DC’s black community, the demonstrations of white power at the Lincoln Memorial, and the spread of racially restrictive pacts. Even with the segregation, it did not stop the black Washingtonians from building self-sustaining neighborhoods and community institutions. The institutions and the settings created by the blacks confirmed the black self-worth, cultivated their pride, and challenged the culture of white supremacy.


Self-determination and racial pride significantly contributed to the institutionalization of racial segregation. Although the African Americans demanded equal rights according to the law, the civil movement embraced peaceful protest against racial segregation. However, young Black men and women felt that the peaceful protest would not solve Black Americans’ systematic discrimination and racism. Moreover,  Malcolm X’s racial pride and self-determination, liberation movement in Africa, Asia, and Latin America inspired the Black American to create economic, social, and political power instead of seeking integration into white domination. The rise of Black Power, a parallel force alongside the civil rights movement, aimed to promote Black voter registration and protest the widespread discrimination in America. Unfortunately, the fight for racial segregation faced challenges. The author narrates the death of Martin Luther King Jr., the prominent civil rights leader.  Several arrests of onlookers by the law enforcement followed the death of Martin to create fear among the Black Americans.

The manifestation of the new spirit manifests in the current generation. Black movement influences popular culture, education, politics, and societal norms. The campaign created a lasting impact that continues to challenge inequalities and overcoming discrimination to attain equal rights. For instance, the legacies of Black Power and the civil rights movement resurfaced on the Black Lives Matter movement. The exercise combats social vices like political injustice, racism, and discrimination.

Making connections with other chapters

            The chapter presents a lasting solution to the racism and discrimination against Black Americans. Although slavery ends in the book’s previous chapter, the author does not highlight the end to discrimination. Besides, the reconstruction of the city reveals new things that the blacks decide to explore. The chapter is essentially a development of the previous chapter to create a comprehensive review on racism in America.


Reading response 2:  chapter 9



The chapter narrates the voiceless Black Americans. Although the Blacks contemn the Southern cities, they are economically segregated from handling government issues. Nobody seems to care about the Black peoples’ achievements. Nevertheless, with the city’s boom during the New Deal and World War II, new black activities emerged to challenge Jim Crow, fight for economic survival, and house reforms. At this time, most of the Black Americans worked in private and government offices. Therefore, instead of the civil movement, the Blacks used new forms of protest such as boycotts, union organizations, and sit-ins to advocate for better living standards. Correspondingly, some whites felt that racial inequality was tainting the American reputation, forming an interracial alliance with Black people to end inequality. Even though the coalition received a mixed reaction, the community activism and interracial organizations secured a foundation for the new civil rights movement. Conversely, some whites fought the campaign at the local and federal level to preserve the nation’s capital segregation acquired during the war. The activities gained some achievement but failed to defeat Jim Crow.


The DC demonstrated a combination of the North and South racial segregation by destabilizing the black community and undermining their access to opportunities. Despite the civil movement, there were acute disparities between African Americans and whites in homeownership, equal education, and employment. Moreover, the segregation includes the devaluation of a black neighborhood home. The housing divide highlights racial segregation because it denied Black people the ability to accumulate wealth like the white through homeownership.

Making connections with other chapters

The previous chapter features the unemployed Americans demanding a new government strategy obtained through Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal. However, Hoover and New Deal continued with mixed reactions from Franklin’s campaigns which people assumed. The chapter opens a new view of the fight against inequality. Unlike the previous chapter, where Black people fight racism and discrimination, chapter nine demonstrates the collective fight against inequality regardless of race and color.

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