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State law, for example, authorized the creation of "separate but equal" schools in 1869, and within a year two "colored schools" of doubtful quality had opened in Evansville.
In theory, they should have found the achievement of stable family life nearly impossible.
Blacks in this southwestern Indiana county were, moreover, predominantly urban, as 2,686 of the 3,819 lived in Evansville.
Whether urban or rural, Vanderburgh County blacks shared a common inheritance of illiteracy, propertylessness, and powerlessness.
Vanderburgh County in 1880 offers a valuable perspective on this issue.
By studying the family life of blacks with similar roots and socioeconomic conditions residing in the urban and rural sections of the same county, one can show that not only was the two-parent, male-headed family the most common form in both urban and rural areas, but also that black family structure was altered by the urban experience.
They have argued that slavery emasculated the black male by depriving him of his role as breadwinner and displacing family authority onto the white master; that it subjected the black female to sexual and economic exploitation; and that it perpetuated, by the threat of separation by sale, a sense of family impermanence.