technically refers to any system of enforced separation between groups of people. In the United States
, it usually refers to the system set up (de jure
in the South, de facto
in the North) that required African Americans
Americans to stay separate as much as possible. They had to live, work, shop, eat, and drink separately, and even sit in different sections of public transit systems. The systems were ostensibly "separate but equal
," a phrase now used to imply the subject isn't very equal at all.
In the South, this was enforced by lynch mobs and the force of law. African Americans were not allowed to attend the same schools as European Americans, and were
sometimes always beaten or hanged for trying. In the North, the system was similar, but instead rested on the civil sphere to enforce it. For example, most banks and real estate companies would not consider helping an African American family to move into a "white" neighborhood. This then resulted in separate schools for the "races."
The system was, for the most part, destroyed during the civil rights movement. However, many cities in the US are still somewhat segregated in practice, although this is blamed on "tradition."
 South Africa
Under apartheid, South Africa was ruled by a racist Caucasian minority (blame the Dutch?). Worldwide pressure from college students broke the system in the late 1990s via divestment pressures.
 See also