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The Economics of Race

A visit with Robert Weems, Professor, History Department

By LuAnne Roth
Published: - Topics: history race Nixon economics African American

Why are black businesses disappearing from America’s landscape? The economic dimension of desegregation

Topics: life insurance race

The fate of black economic development in Columbia, Missouri, represents a microcosm of national trends. “For a variety of social and economic reasons,” Weems observes, “we literally see black businesses disappearing from the landscape of America.” Looking at the economic dimension of desegregation reveals a bitter irony that has animated much of Weems’ work. As a result of so-called desegregation, “on one level, we see white companies making great inroads among the African-American consumers,” he explains. “But we don’t see black companies being able to make similar inroads in the mainstream community.” In economic terms, this one-way situation is not true desegregation.