Racial segregation is the separation of humans into racial or other ethnic groups in daily life. Racial segregation is generally outlawed, but may exist de facto through social norms, even when there is no strong individual preference for it. Segregation may be maintained by means ranging from discrimination in hiring and in the rental and sale of housing to certain races to vigilante violence (such as lynchings). Generally, a situation that arises when members of different races mutually prefer to associate and do business with members of their own race would usually be described as separation or de facto separation of the races rather than segregation. In the United States, segregation was mandated by law in some states and came with anti-miscegenation laws (prohibitions against interracial marriage). Segregation, however, often allowed close contact in hierarchical situations, such as allowing a person of one race to work as a servant for a member of another race. Segregation can involve spatial separation of the races, and mandatory use of different institutions, such as schools and hospitals by people of different races.
- In an under-remarked historic irony, the political party that long defended slavery and racial segregation has become the first to nominate an African-American for president. And the GOP, the Party of Lincoln, which fought for union and advanced civil rights from Reconstruction to Little Rock, has been left with a troubling lack of diversity on its political bench. The Republican Party was right on civil rights for the first one-hundred years of its existence. It was right when the Democratic Party was wrong. Its future strength and survival will depend on rediscovering that legacy of individual freedom amid America's essential diversity. To win in the 21st century, the 'Party of Lincoln' needs to start looking like the 'Party of Lincoln' again.
- John Avlon, "How the Party of Lincoln was Left Behind on Civil Rights" (20 June 2008), Real Clear Politics
- Any suggestion that a segregated past was acceptable or positive is offensive and it is wrong. ... Every day our nation was segregated was a day that America was unfaithful to our founding ideals, and the founding ideals of our nation, and in fact the founding ideals of the political party I represent, was and remains today the equal dignity and equal rights of every American.
- George W. Bush, regarding comments made by Trent Lott (12 December 2002), as quoted in "Lott's Remarks on Segregation 'Wrong and Offense'" (13 December 2002), The Irish Times
- Regimes of racial segregation were not disestablished because of the work of leaders and presidents and legislators but rather because of the fact that ordinary people adopted a critical stance in the way in which they perceived their relationship to reality. Social realities that may have appeared inalterable, impenetrable, came to be viewed as malleable and transformable; and people learned how to imagine what it might mean to live in a world that was not so exclusively governed by the principle of white supremacy. This collective consciousness emerged within the context of social struggles.
- The Klu Klux Klan and the racial segregation that was so dramatically challenged during the mid-twentieth century freedom movement was produced not during slavery but rather in an attempt to manage free black people who would have been far more successful in pushing forward democracy for all.
- The ability of the United States to go from legal segregation a half century ago to the election of a black president suggests there is enormous elasticity in the American political system, and that the country has the capacity to deal with what it now faces, both inside and outside its borders.
- I feel that segregation is totally unchristian, and that it is against everything the Christian religion stands for.
- Martin Luther King, Jr., in his letter to Sally Canada (19 September 1956), as quoted in The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr (1992), by Carson & Holloran, Volumes 2-3, p. 373
- Time is cluttered with wreckage of communities which surrendered to hatred and violence. For the salvation of our nation or mankind, we must follow another way. This does not mean that we abandon our righteous efforts. With every ounce of our energy we must continue to rid this nation of the incubus of segregation. But we shall not in the process relinquish our privilege and our obligation to love. While abhorring segregation, we shall love the segregationist. This is the only way to create the beloved community.
- To accept passively an unjust system is to cooperate with that system; thereby the oppressed become as evil as the oppressor. Non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. The oppressed must never allow the conscience of the oppressor to slumber. Religion reminds every man that he is his brother's keeper. To accept injustice or segregation passively is to say to the oppressor that his actions are morally right. It is a way of allowing his conscience to fall asleep. At this moment the oppressed fails to be his brother's keeper. So acquiescence-while often the easier way-is not the moral way. It is the way of the coward.
- Segregation is a cancer in the body politic which must be removed before our democratic health can be realized. The underlying philosophy of segregation is diametrically opposed to the underlying philosophy of democracy and Christianity and all the sophisms of the logicians cannot make them lie down together. We must make it clear that in our struggle to end this thing called segregation, we are not struggling for ourselves alone. We are not struggling only to free seventeen million Negroes. The festering sore of segregation debilitates the white man as well as the Negro. We are struggling to save the soul of America. We are struggling to save America in this very important decisive hour of her history
- Martin Luther King, Jr., Keep Moving from this Mountain – Founders Day Address at the Sisters Chapel, Spelman College (11 April 1960)
- We must continue to break down the barrier of segregation. We must resist all forms of racial injustice. This resistance must always be on the highest level of dignity and discipline. It must never degenerate to the crippling level of violence.
- Martin Luther King, Jr., The Rising Tide of Racial Consciousnes (1960) Address at the Golden Anniversary Conference of the National Urban League, 6 September 1960, New York, N.Y 
- As a preacher... I must admit that I have gone through those moments when I was greatly disappointed with the church and what it has done in this period of social change. We must face the fact that in America, the church is still the most segregated major institution in America. At 11:00 on Sunday morning when we stand and sing and Christ has no east or west, we stand at the most segregated hour in this nation. This is tragic. Nobody of honesty can overlook this. Now, I'm sure that if the church had taken a stronger stand all along, we wouldn't have many of the problems that we have. The first way that the church can repent, the first way that it can move out into the arena of social reform is to remove the yoke of segregation from its own body. Now, I'm not saying that society must sit down and wait on a spiritual and moribund church as we've so often seen. I think it should have started in the church, but since it didn't start in the church, our society needed to move on. The church, itself, will stand under the judgement of God. Now that the mistake of the past has been made, I think that the opportunity of the future is to really go out and to transform American society, and where else is there a better place than in the institution that should serve as the moral guardian of the community. The institution that should preach brotherhood and make it a reality within its own body.
- Martin Luther King, Jr., "Social Justice and the Emerging New Age" address at the Herman W. Read Fieldhouse, Western Michigan University (18 December 1963)
- This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilising drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.
- We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."
- How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts the human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority.
- Segregation is wrong because it is a system of adultery perpetuated by an illicit intercourse between injustice and immorality.
- There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: "For Whites Only." We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."
- Segregation was wrong when it was forced by white people, and I believe it is still wrong when it is requested by black people.
- Our children deserve quality education. We believe that segregated schools are morally wrong and unconstitutional... Our approach is to work to eradicate the root causes of segregated schools, such as housing discrimination and gerrymandered school districts. We must get on with the education of all our children.
- Republican Party Platform of 1976 (18 August 1976), Kansas City, Missouri.
- I have the hatred of apartheid in my bones; and most of all, I detest the segregation or separation of Language and Literature. I do not care which of them you think White.
- J.R.R. Tolkien, "Valedictory Address to the University of Oxford," June 5, 1959, reprinted in Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Monsters and the Critics, London: Harper Collins (2006), p. 238. ISBN 026110263X A native of South Africa, Tolkien had been a professor at Oxford since 1925. Earlier in his address he explained his objection to what he considered the "false" separation of "Language" and "Literature" in the study of English.