As racist violence unfolded in Chicago in July and August 1919, white politicians and local papers increasingly suggested segregating Black residents from white was not just a solution, but the best solution. Some called for laws; even after the riots ended, others suggested that informal arrangements — even agreements — would work as well. As the Chicago Tribune put it in November 1919: ”There can be no living together, so why not live apart?”

Those suggestions echoed arguments for segregation that had been made decades before, in late-nineteenth-century Chicago.


Writer. Formerly civil rights attorney. Currently professor. Working on new book about mental disability and criminal law in the 20th century.

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