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De-segregation implies a starting point which is already segregated by design or by nature. It means to abolish a pre-existing state of segregation. But Integration can be from any starting point, including a neutral one.
In Sociotalk, "desegregation' references the basis upon which the action is applied, while "integration" addresses only the objective.
Both are semantically loaded words. Desegregation assigns culpability for the status quo, while "integration" denies blame.
Although Semantics is widely downplayed as a linguistic science, it would behoove budding historians to study it for a semester, to see how their choice of words betrays their subjectivity.
Furthermore, "civil rights" was neither about desegregation nor integration. It was about civil rights, which is the liberty of human beings to participate within the social framework of the community, without authoritarian duress.
Here's something close to my question. I think the thinking back in the 60's was that if something was all Black it had to be changed to integration. This is what some Blacks disagreed with. Instead desegregation would legally give Blacks the option of staying with an Black enviroment but they will have the option of integrating if they wanted to.
I think the definitions provided by Grandstander and jtur88 are spot on and jive with what was being discussed in the school desegregation thread. Basically, desgregation was the breaking down of the legal barriers that existed while integration implied an actual mixing of the races into a racially "blind" society.
You can look at it through the example of de jour segregation and de facto segregation. De jour segregation was practiced in the south and there were legal barriers setup to keep the groups separate. The irony is that the south was also a more integrated society where blacks and whites lived in close proximity. De facto segregation was what was practiced in the north. There was no legal barrier keeping the societies separate, but by practice they were not integrated with whites and blacks living in insular communities.
There was an old saying that TexasReb posted that captures it quite well:
In the South, it didn't matter how close you got, but just dont get too high; in the North it was, get as high as you want, just don't get too close.
The attitude during the Civil Rights era was to attack the de joure desegregation in the south breaking down the barriers holding blacks back. There was no similar move to effect integration in the north as the de facto segregated society provided a strong political power base, similar to how various immigrant groups had gained political influence in the past.
The irony is that now in 2011 we see a reverse of the Great Migration. Absent the barriers that had been put into place in the south with segregation, the south has ended up a more racially integrated society, as it had always been more integrated, it was just politically and socially segregated. Meanwhile the north has remained for the most part de facto segregated.
"It is a damn poor mind indeed which can't think of at least two ways to spell any word."
-- Andrew Jackson, often quoted by W. C. Fields
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