A descent into resegregation, with white families again moving out, is not inevitable. When the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, Ill., faced the same migration trends as Ferguson in the 1980s, community organizers worked with real estate agents to welcome minorities while reassuring whites, according to a report by The Atlantic’s CityLab.
“In Oak Park, the community chose to embrace diversity and more importantly to embrace integration and inclusion,” Rob Breymaier of the nonprofit Oak Park Regional Housing Center told CityLab. “As a result, Oak Park has prospered and our diversity is an asset, while Ferguson appears to be struggling.”
When I was in that area (lived in Oak Park for a few months, then Berwyn), the Weekly Reader (I think) had just revealed some of the details. Blockbusting had been a major problem in Chicago, and Oak Park determined that it wasn't going to happen there. So the powers-that-were leaned secretly and heavily on realtors and landlords to force them to rent/sell to blacks--but only in scattered areas. There was under no circumstances to be a concentration of blacks in any part of the city. That latter feature violated the letter and spirit of anti-discrimination laws, but the outcome was pretty much what the powers-that-be wanted: integration w/o panic.
But it wasn't quite as simple as Breymaier implies.