From Slate (, this interesting article on the history of
Integration and the integrationist ideal.

Black and white critics of the integrationist ideal now abound. Even the
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, once
integration's most stalwart advocate, is reconsidering its goal of
racial integration. Who are integration's critics? What is their
position? Who advocates separatism for blacks? Why are critics of
integration gaining momentum? 
The integrationist ideal holds that blacks and whites should live, work,
and study together.  Government policies designed to accomplish these
goals include school busing, affirmative action in public schools and in
the workplace, forced integration of public housing, and laws barring
discrimination in housing and employment. 
The most surprising new critics of integration are found in traditional
civil-rights groups like the NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership
Conference. Although the organizations still support integration, their
dissident members are dissatisfied with the outcomes produced by
government policies. They note that while the African-American middle
class is expanding, nearly 26 percent of all African-Americans still
live below the poverty line. 
Black separatism dates back to the 19th century, when Martin Delaney and
others promoted the "Back to Africa" movement. The literal return to
Africa was seen as the only option for blacks because, they argued,
white supremacy could never be displaced. Marcus Garvey and Father
Divine led the movement in the '20s. Separatism fades in and out of
media attention: Separatists of the '30s and '40s received little
Still, segregationists and integrationists have always coexisted within
the civil-rights movement. In the mid-'60s, when the integrationist
ideal reached its peak, the black-power wing of the civil-rights
movement grew by advocating black self-determination-the establishment
of exclusively black schools and a self-sustaining black economy. More
radical elements called for a black nation in the American South. Even
ultra-integrationist Martin Luther King Jr. cast the civil-rights
movement as an anti-colonial liberation struggle late in his career.
Also, some black leaders in the '60s sought control over their local
public schools, which prefigures the current enthusiasm many
African-Americans have for running their own charter schools within the
public-school system. 
Recent markers of black separatism include the Louis Farrakhan-sponsored
Million Man March of 1995, to which only African-American men were
invited; the debate over the teaching in public schools of Ebonics, the
so-called African-American dialect; the establishment of exclusively
African-American dorms on college campuses; and single-race schools,
which are even supported by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas,
because he believes they will promote the self-esteem of
African-American students. 
The best-known separatist leader is the Nation of Islam's Louis
Farrakhan, although his followers probably number fewer than 50,000.
(Click here to read a "Gist" on the Nation.) Many consider it portentous
that former NAACP President Benjamin Chavis is now a Nation of Islam
The separatists have new academic allies, the critical race theorists,
led by New York University's Derrick Bell and University of Colorado's
Richard Delgado. They argue that despite its guise of neutrality, the
American legal system is riddled with mechanisms for oppressing black
people. Some critical race theorists argue that black jurors should
acquit guilty black defendants in protest of the unjust system. 
What accounts for separatism's current vogue? Some attribute the new
separatism to black demagogues in politics and the academy who
deliberately exploit black anxieties to further their careers. Black
conservative Shelby Steele argues that African-Americans embrace
separatism to cover for their embarrassing lack of skills. Steele also
says that separatism appeals to unqualified students admitted to college
under the protection of affirmative action. These students compensate
for their shortcomings by clinging to one another and striking the
defensive pose of separatism. 
Another explanation holds that integration is out of favor because the
Democratic Party has retreated from the goal. In hopes of attracting
more white votes, the Democratic Party has distanced itself from
civil-rights leaders like Jesse Jackson, and from issues like welfare
reform and affirmative action. Cut off from the political mainstream,
some civil-rights leaders and grassroots supporters have embraced
separatist politicians and positions. 
In the past, the most obstinate white opponents of integration (the
Goldwater wing of the Republican Party and conservative Southern
Democrats) argued that people should have the right to associate-or not
to associate-with whomever they wish. Goldwater later recanted this
view, and even the most conservative Southern politicians now laud the
Civil Rights Act of 1964, which removed barriers that legally prevented
blacks from living and working where they wished. Many conservatives
still endorse the anti-segregationist line that government shouldn't
interfere with people's preferences. 
White critics of integration include the neo-conservatives, former
liberals who supported the civil-rights mainstream until the early '70s.
Theirs is now the dominant right-wing critique of integrationist
programs. While continuing to endorse the ideal of integration, they say
affirmative action, busing, and the rest do more harm than good. In 1984
Charles Murray wrote, in Losing Ground, that government programs sap the
initiative of the black population, creating feelings of dependency and
entitlement. Black conservative critics like Thomas Sowell concur,
adding that government programs allow blacks to blame racism for their
self-inflicted wounds. 
Also attacking integration is social democrat Randall Kennedy of Harvard
Law School.
Government-mandated integration is wrong, he writes, because any
endorsement of racial preferences is immoral. 
Keeping the integrationist faith are black liberals like Professors
Henry Louis Gates and Cornel West. Joining them is black economist Glenn
Loury, a conservative who broke ranks to endorse affirmative action as a
necessary policy. 
Has integration succeeded? Not really, say neo-cons Abigail and Stephan
Thernstrom. Their new book, America in Black and White, says that the
playing field has been leveled in spite of government programs. The
black middle class benefited from the postwar economic boom, not
affirmative action, they say. Orlando Patterson writes in his new book,
The Ordeal of Integration, that government programs have helped many
African-Americans to join the economic and cultural mainstream, but the
programs can't be expected to further expand the black middle class. 

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