A Town Divided: Segregation and Montgomery County
In 1896, Blacksburg annexed the formerly independent New Town, the same year Plessy v. Ferguson declared “Separate but Equal” the law of the land. This Supreme Court decision challenged previous civil rights legislation and institutionalized a national environment of racial segregation. Public policy and private action worked together to impose segregation from whites in schools, public facilities, transportation, and housing.
New Town grew in a racially divided climate and its early residents did not have the same school resources, vocational options, or institutions as Blacksburg’s white population. In response, New Town residents built a stable, cohesive community through their churches and fraternal institutions to create meaningful lives for themselves.
Mid-20th century Supreme Court cases including Brown vs. Board of Education on public schooling and Shelley vs. Kraemer on restrictive covenants began the monumental task of reversing centuries of racial discrimination.