A Long and Happy Life Historical Context

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Contemporary readers might be surprised to find the casual friendships between blacks and whites portrayed in this novel. Throughout much of American history, races were segregated in the southern states, including North Carolina, where this novel takes place. Most histories of that region in the 1960s tend to focus on the growing violence between blacks and whites as the Civil Rights movement heated up.

Segregation followed from the end of slavery in 1865 and was made into law when the Supreme Court, in 1896, declared that it would not be unconstitutional to treat blacks and whites differently as long as both sides were offered "separate but equal" accommodations. Throughout the first half of the twentieth century, many southern states adhered to that policy in theory, although the railroad cars, hotels, housing, etc. that were assigned to blacks were clearly worse than those allowed whites. This situation could...

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This section contains 466 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the A Long and Happy Life Study Guide
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A Long and Happy Life from Gale. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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