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Desegregation is the process that ends the racial separation of people. Most often, the term is used in relationship to the Civil Rights struggle of the 1950s and 1960s in the United States. The landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, declared that segregation, especially in schools, was illegal.


Due to the long legacy of slavery in the United States, even after the Civil War, white Americans legally restricted the movement of African Americans. In 1896, the Supreme Court declared in Plessy v. Ferguson that separate but equal was legal, but the reality was that separate meant unequal. By the end of World War II, African Americans were demanding an end to this situation. In 1948, President Truman ordered that the armed forces be desegregated, a precursor to the larger efforts across America in the 1950s and 1960s.

Efforts to promote equality and racial diversity in America, especially in education, have led to desegregation efforts such as forced busing. However, many believe that Americans are choosing a form of de facto segregation, as more affluent Americans move away from cities to outer suburbs. As a result, many U.S. high schools are just as segregated by race as they were in the 1950s, before such practices were declared illegal. Desegregation, as a remedy for discrimination, remains the law of the land.

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