Author:Jeffrey Lehman, Shirelle Phelps

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The bringing together of separate elements to create a whole unit. The bringing together of people from the different demographic and racial groups that make up U.S. society.

In most cases, the term integration is used to describe the process of bringing together people of different races, especially blacks and whites, in schools and other settings. But it is also used to describe the process of bringing together people of different backgrounds. A primary purpose of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) (42 U.S.C.A. § 12101 et seq.), for example, was to more fully integrate disabled individuals into U.S. society. The House Judiciary Committee's report on the ADA described it as "a comprehensive piece of CIVIL RIGHTS legislation which promises a new future: a future of inclusion and integration, and the end of exclusion and segregation" (H.R. Rep. No. 485, 101st Cong., 2d Sess., pt. 3, at 26 [1990], reprinted in 1990 U.S.C.C.A.N. 445, 449.7).

The term integration is most commonly used in association with the efforts of African-Americans in the United States to eliminate racial SEGREGATION and achieve equal opportunity and inclusion in U.S. society. Often, it has been used synonymously with desegregation to mean the elimination of discriminatory practices based on race. However, although similar, the terms have been used in significantly different ways by the courts, by legal theorists, and in the context of the CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT. In general, desegregation refers to the elimination of policies and practices that segregate people of different races into separate institutions and facilities. Integration refers not only to the elimination of such policies but also to the active incorporation of different races into institutions for the purpose of achieving racial balance, which many believe will lead to equal rights, protections, and opportunities.

Throughout the civil rights movement in the United States, black leaders have held different opinions about the meaning and value of integration, with some advocating integration as the ultimate goal for black citizens, and others resisting integration out of concern that it would lead to the assimilation of black citizens into white culture and society. In 1934, a disagreement

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over the value of integration versus segregation led W. E. B. Du Bois?a cofounder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and a leading scholar, writer, and civil rights activist?to resign from the NAACP. Du Bois rejected the NAACP's heavy emphasis on integration, calling instead for black citizens to maintain their own churches, schools, and social organizations, and especially to develop their own economic base separate from the mainstream white economy.

After Du Bois's resignation, the NAACP adopted a full-fledged campaign to eliminate segregation and to promote integration. In 1940, NAACP leaders sent to President FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, the secretary of the Navy, and the assistant secretary of war a memorandum outlining provisions for the "integration of the Negro into military aspects of the national defense program." This was the first instance in which the NAACP had specifically used the term integration in a civil rights policy pronouncement. After WORLD WAR II, the term racial integration became commonly used to describe civil rights issues pertaining to race.

On the legal front, the NAACP focused its efforts on eliminating segregation in the public schools. This campaign was led by THURGOOD MARSHALL, the first director-counsel of the NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATIONAL FUND and later a U.S. Supreme Court justice. In 1954, Marshall successfully argued the landmark case BROWN V. BOARD OF EDUCATION, 347 U.S. 483, 74 S. Ct. 686, 98 L. Ed. 873, before the U.S. Supreme Court. The ruling in that case declared that racially segregated schools are inherently unequal and thus unconstitutional. Like other NAACP leaders, Marshall was strongly committed to the principle of racial integration. His arguments in Brown were heavily based on the work of Kenneth B. Clark, a black social psychologist whose research suggested that black children were stigmatized by being educated in racially segregated schools, causing them to suffer psychological and intellectual harm. Marshall used this theory of "stigmatic injury" to

Months after the Brown v. Bd. of Ed. decision, two schools at military bases in Virginia were first opened to black children. Although not yet required of public schools, the Defense Department ordered the racial integration of all schools on military posts.


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persuade the Court that racially segregated schools were inherently unequal. Although the Brown decision called for an end to formal segregation, it did not explicitly call for positive steps to ensure the integration of public...

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