Chapter 2 Segregating Along Color Lines

This chapter explains how the boundaries of white middle-class privilege have shifted over time, from explicit racial barriers to more sophisticated hurdles, and from the schooling to the housing sector. The Connecticut legislature banned schooling for out-of-state black students during the 1830s, and Hartford leaders voted to officially segregate public schools for a brief period in 1868, and proposed it again in 1917. After civil rights activists overturned these policies, Hartford officials quietly continued to separate many black and white students into the 1970s, through its decisions on locating new schools and redrawing attendance lines. In the housing sector, the color line gained more governmental support in the 1930s and ’40s, with federal and local policies that openly prohibited home mortgages and public housing for blacks, and legally protected white-only property deeds. After activists overturned these governmental restrictions, the Connecticut real estate industry continued the color line through discriminatory steering and lending, even after the federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 outlawed these practices.

Figure 2.1: Explore the full-screen interactive map of racial change in Hartford County, Connecticut, which displays the percentage of the “White” population in towns and census tracts from 1900 to 2018. Since categories of race and ethnicity are socially constructed, US Census labels vary over time. For example, “Native White” and “Foreign-born White” were combined and generally reported as “White” by the 1940s, and “Negro” was replaced by “Black” in 1980. While the Census classified “Mexican” as “Other races” in 1930, it moved this group back to “White” in 1940, and began to report “Puerto Rican or Spanish surname” data in 1960, followed by “Hispanic or Latino” in later decades, as an ethnic category regardless of race. Beginning in 2000, the Census allowed people to select more than one racial category. To create this century-long map that visualizes patterns across racial and ethnic categories that vary over time, we decided to show the percentage of the “White” or “White alone (non-Hispanic)” population with uniform shading for each area, along with data details for specific years in the hover box. View open-source code and historical sources for the map, developed by Ilya Ilyankou and Jack Dougherty, with Katie Campbell and MAGIC UConn Libraries.