Any comparison of the 1850s with 1830 would conclude that the struggle for equal rights had made substantial progress. Almost all legal discriminations had ended. There was increased opportunity for advancement. Some black New Englanders gained wealth, political positions, access to cultural venues, and all the other trappings of the affluent middle class. But a wall of poverty and limited economic opportunities limited most. They faced the double hardship of racism and disdain for the poor. Poverty was a wall holding back people of all ethnicities, and it was much more difficult to surmount than barriers separating working class from lower middle class or middle class from upper middle class. For African Americans, the wall was reinforced by racism. Desegregating schools and eliminating the ban on mixed marriages proved to be much easier than ending poverty.
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