Jim Crow in the City: Spatial Segregation in Columbus, Georgia, 1890-1944
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
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Between 1890 and 1944 thousands of African Americans moved to Columbus in search of greater economic and social opportunities. Despite Jim Crow laws and the threat of violence, African Americans built a thriving black community, largely separate from white public life, that affected the city’s geographic development. Using city directories, census data, Sanborn maps, and oral histories, this thesis tracks the changes in Columbus’s spatial patterns. As geographic segregation in the city increased, African Americans created their own discrete community within the city through the development of two black neighborhoods, Liberty and West Highlands. Race, not class, organized Columbus’s black population. Columbus’s growing black middle class lived on the same blocks as its poorest black citizens. As the separation between black and white grew in the city, Columbus’s black businesses relocated from the central business district to black neighborhoods. Black businesses that served the black community thrived and helped transform Liberty and West Highlands into a mixed residential-commercial area.