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This study examines school desegregation in late-nineteenth-century Brooklyn from a spatial perspective, analyzing enrollment data and policy debates within the context of the shifting racial and geographic contours of the city. We argue that “choice” on the part of black families only partially explains the demise of designated-black schools during this period. White interests also played a role in the closing of these institutions, as white families and developers sought, and ultimately acquired, control over formerly black spaces. This study contributes to a growing body of research on school desegregation in northern U.S. cities by exploring the perceived benefits of school desegregation for white families and property owners, and by examining how the end of official school segregation may have helped to shape the racial contours of nineteenth-century urban development.



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