Modern Retro Wordpower: Desegregate


Rome, Georgia. September 1943. Esther Bubley, photographer. "A sign at the Greyhound bus station." (Image courtesy of the Library of Congress)


Transitive Verb: (Merriam-Webster): to eliminate segregation in; specifically : to free of any law, provision, or practice requiring isolation of the members of a particular race in separate units

First Known Use: 1944; In the late 19th century, the United States Supreme Court upheld the “separate but equal” doctrine that kept minorities from being able to integrate with white people.  Many Americans think of the Brown v. Board of Education overturning the “separate but equal” doctrine as the beginning of the civil rights movement but, in actuality, the movement had started long before the second ruling.  For example, men returning from fighting in World War I started demanding that they receive the equality they had fought for overseas.  During World War II, Roosevelt was accused of tolerating racism in the United States after his administration condemned the Nazi racist ideology.  Click here for an interesting look at the role of the Communist Party in the civil rights movement prior to The Second Red Scare in the late 1940s (that Kathy mentioned in a comment).

Example: I remember when the practice of busing students from distant parts of the city to local high schools (and vice versa) began in Los Angeles in an effort to desegregate the public schools.

Your turn: Use desegregate in a sentence and tell us about your earliest recollection associated with the word.

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Dr. Julie-Ann

I'm Dr. Julie-Ann, living life in its Technicolor finest by channeling my Grandma, Donna Reed, and June Cleaver with a bit of Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly glamour thrown in for good measure, too. I work outside of the home full-time as a university administrator but I nourish my soul and find my greatest happiness by trying to be the "perfect" 1950s homemaker.

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  1. 1

    Hairball says

    My most vivid memory of desegregation was when my hometown was forced to close one of the high schools in town in order to comply with desegregation efforts. While there where African-American and Latino students at the other high schools in town, the high schools as a whole were still pretty racially segregated. So, my town closed down the predominantly African-American and Latino high school, bused those students to the two predominantly Caucasian high schools, and turned the now abandoned high school into a junior high school.

    It was decided that some of the students from my area of town would be part of the group bused out to the “new” junior high school. Parents were informed that the racial makeup of the “new” junior high school would be predominately African-American/Latino. Sadly, some of the parents of my classmates “got religion” that summer, and chose to enroll their kids in private religious schools where the student body was still predominately Caucasian.

    Luckily, my parents chose to keep me in the public school system so I attended the “new” junior high school for two years.