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Coming Together and Keeping Apart: Segregation in the Twin City

Winston-Salem is a segregated city. In 1974, the city was reported to be the second-most segregated city of the over 100 American cities surveyed, just beating out Shreveport, La.[1] Since then, things have not gotten much better. Here is a one-person, one-dot map of Winston-Salem from the Cooper Center:


The green dots represent African-Americans while yellow dots are Hispanics and blue dots are Whites. There is a clear East-West divide that emerges.

A map of African-American populations in 2009 shows a similar pattern of segregation, with blacks clustered in the North and East of downtown Winston-Salem.


That reports labels Highway US-52 as the major dividing line and attributes segregated housing patterns to “the historical legacy of overt discrimination in housing through both public policy and social practices.” The report goes on to cite 1912 city legislation and later acts.

However, the roots of segregation in Winston-Salem go back even further than that. While racial segregation became the norm across the South in the early 20th century, it manifested itself in unique ways in different areas based on those areas’ respective histories. Such is the case in Winston-Salem.

Before Winston-Salem came to exist, there was just the Moravian town of Salem, a religious community that initially was unusually racially accepting. The story of the combination of Salem with the town of Winston that sprung up nearby is the story of normative economic and social policies overcoming the quaint town of Salem, which has become little more than a museum today.

Affectionately called the “Twin City,” Winston-Salem came to exist when two very different communities, Winston and Salem, joined together as one city. Citizens coined the term “the Salem conscience and the Winston purse” to explain each town's benefits—the moral leadership of the Moravian community of Salem and the wealth of tobacco-driven Winston.

Though the two towns share equal weight in the combined city’s name, in practice, Winston came to dominate Salem, even before the official merger. An understanding of this trend and its effects on racial policy can help illuminate the true causes of how a city known for a friendly decision to come together became so notorious for its practice of keeping apart.

To truly understand this process, one needs to go back to the late 1700s, when the founding of Salem coincided with the first time it departed from its religious ideals...

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The Friendship Network of Foigny

Today it is difficult to think of Europe, particularly western Europe, as wild or uncultivated. The words one associates with with it are things like food, art, culture, civilization, beer.

Just after the turn of the first millienium, the situation was very different. In what is today northern France and Belgium, local lords, necessary for protection against Vikings and other maurauding threats, did as they pleased, warring with each other and respecting neither human life nor the institutional Church. 

Two movements, called the Peace and Truce of God, coupled with initiatives from both the papacy and monastic and episcopal reformers, attempted to curb this martial excess. Historians have seen the First Crusade and the formation of the Knights Templar as an outgrowth of these efforts, a redirection of violence towards a more legitimate enemy. The resulting economic prosperity and intellectual flourishing of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries is at least partially attributed to their success.

One of the more promenant examples of this sort of reform comes from the Prince-Bishop of Laon, Barthélemy de Jur (r. 1113 - 1151). Elected after his predecessor had been murdered by a mob in the sanctuary of the Laon cathedral, Barthélemy set himself up in opposition to this culture of violence, attempting to pacify the region by expanding both his own influence and that of the Church, both through diplomacy with the regional nobility and by the foundation of monastic houses.

Barthélemy showed particular favoritism to two new reform-minded monastic orders: the Cistercians and the Praemonstratensians. These two orders sought seclusion and a simpler and more austere form of piety, often chosing locations for new monasteries far from existing towns. By encouraging these orders to found houses in his episcopal domain, Barthélemy was able to civilize the hinterland while at the same time gaining new allies in his diplomacy with the nobility.

This study focuses around one of these monastaries founded at the urging of Barthélemy: the Cistercian house of Foigny. Although it was once a powerful economic and intellectual center, Foigny suffered a severe decline in the fourteenth century, and today little is known about and even less work has been done on this important foundation. By applying new tools of social network analysis and GIS mapping to the available sources, this study will situate the abbey of Foigny within the broader context of a well-studied region, filling the scholarly lacuna which is currently present.


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