Race Relations in the North

Although the racism in the Deep South rose to levels rarely seen elsewhere in the country, racism and segregation existed across America, Outside the South, African Americas faced racism in other forms.

Illinois and New York offer just two examples. In Illinois the fight raged over housing, with its protective covenants and mortgages and all the means at a seller’s disposal to decide who could, or could not, buy her or his house. In New York City, African-Americans experienced housing, job, and social discrimination on a daily basis.


Should a wealthy suburb on the North Shore of Chicago admit black residents? Could residents bring Martin Luther King Jr. to the village green for a demonstration without creating an angry backlash? Would prestigious white law firms hire Harvard-trained black lawyers? Would respectable residents of quiet suburban areas write letters to their local newspapers expressing racist sentiments expected to be heard only in the South?

  • An affluent suburb on the North Shore of Chicago, Winnetka had its own newspaper, The Winnetka Talk. During the 1960s discussions, reports, and arguments over the local issues surrounding race relations illed itss pages. In Winnetka the biggest topic was Open Housing. Could neighborhoods ban residents from selling their homes to blacks (or Jews or Asians…) by creating a closed “covenant”? Other issues surfaced as well, especially when WIMS woman Henrietta Moore spearheaded a campaign to bring Martin Luther King Jr. to speak in the village green.

Washington, D. C.

New York

Although New York City had a storied history as a melting pot of European peoples, blacks and whites remained segregated by class, housing, education, and daily patterns of life. In Jackson Heights, Queens, a community that today prides itself on its ethnic diversity, was cleaved by race. Where you lived determined where you went to school, and when the federal courts began to demand plans to integrate these schools the local white communities often reacted with fear and anger. In 1964 New York was a largely white city with African American and Puerto Rican ghettos.