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The Political Economy of Segregation: The Case of Segregated Streetcars

  • Jennifer Roback (a1)

The introduction of segregation laws for municipal streetcars is examined. The economics of private and public segregation is analyzed first, taking note of the particular features of the streetcar industry, followed by a discussion of the contemporary debates on streetcar segregation laws in a number of southern cities. The evidence presented suggests that segregation laws were binding constraints and not simply the codification of customary practice. Furthermore, the streetcar companies were not the initiators of segregation and sometimes actively resisted it. These findings are related to several major interpretations of the origins of segregation.

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John W. Cell , The Highest Stage of White Supremacy (Cambridge, Mass., 1982).

Donald Dewey , “Negro Employment in Southern Industry,” Journal of Political Economy, 60 (081952), pp. 279–93. For a more recent discussion of the relative importance of tastes,

August Meier and Elliot Rudwick , “The Boycott Movement Against Jim Crow Streetcars in the South, 1900–1906,” Journal of American History, 55 (031969), pp. 756–75.

Charles Crowe , “Racial Violence and Social Reform: Origins of the Atlanta Riot of 1906,” Journal of Negro History, 53 (071968), p. 245.

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The Journal of Economic History
  • ISSN: 0022-0507
  • EISSN: 1471-6372
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-economic-history
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