Giving Compass' Take:

• This investigative series from Governing explores racial segregation in downstate Illinois, offering data, maps, stories, and key takeaways.

• What is the nonprofit sector's role in addressing residential segregation? Should the sector push for policy change, focus on awareness, or actually offer services to homeowners and buyers?

• To learn about persistent school segregation in areas with increased residential integration, click here.

Residential segregation between blacks and whites persists today, even though Congress outlawed overt housing discrimination a half century ago. The most segregated metropolitan areas, though, are not the Southern cities that were the battlefields of the civil rights movement; they are older cities in the Northeast and Midwest that absorbed black residents during the Great Migration.

But why are so many cities and metropolitan areas still split along racial lines? And what is the role of local government in reinforcing those divides?

To answer those questions, Governing conducted a six-month investigation of black-white segregation in the small cities of downstate Illinois. The area is the veritable byword for Middle America, and it helped launch the political careers of Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama. But it also includes some of the most segregated places in the country.

Read the full article about segregation at Governing