In Illinois in 1964, the symptoms of racism and segregation were different than they were in Mississippi. In Illinois the fight over institutionalized racism raged over housing, with its protective covenants and mortgages and all the means at a seller's disposal to decide who could, or could not, buy her or his house.
But racism and segregation were not confined to the South. In New York City, African-Americans experienced housing, job, and social discrimination on a daily basis. In Illinois, blacks could vote and the rules of Jim Crow were subtle, but by the 1950s, as more than 300,000 southern blacks poured into Chicago, the city became entirely segregated along residential lines. The fight in the North was not who could sit where on a bus, but where whites and blacks could live. With housing went schools. With schools went education, and with education went jobs.
Should a wealthy suburb like Winnetka, on the north shore of Chicago, admit black residents? Could residents of Winnetka bring Martin Luther King to the village green for a demonstration without creating a backlash of anger? Would prestigious white law firms hire Harvard-trained black lawyers? Would respectable residents of quite suburban areas write letters to their newspapers expressing racist sentiments their neighbors believed could only be heard in the South?
New York City may have prided itself on its history as a melting pot of European peoples, but blacks and whites were segregated not simply by income, but by housing and schools and daily patterns of offense. In Jackson Heights, Queens, a community that today prides itself on its ethnic diversity, was cleaved by race. Where you lived and where you went to school were thus determined, and when the federal courts began to demand plans to integrate these schools the local white communities often reacted with fear and anger. In 1964 New York was a largely white city with African-American (and Puerto Rican) ghettos.