In this video, Condoleezza Rice talks about how when she grew up in Birmingham, she was somewhat shielded from racism because the town was so segregated. Many Southern towns were this way, they built a life for themselves on their own side, where they may have had their own dentists, grocery stories, schools, clubs, and more.
When towns began to integrate, blacks lost their economic clout. Integration was an opportunity for blacks to head over to the white sides of town, not vice versa. Blacks took their dollars and headed to the white side of town. They left behind more than failing black businesses though.
For many blacks, going to the white side of town meant experiencing prolonged exposure to the disgust many whites still held for them. Imagine walking into a store and having someone act repulsed by your mere existence. As towns began to implement integration laws, more and and more blacks experienced the true cost of freedom. Their dollars were accepted, but their dignity was slowly chipped away.
As the businesses began to shut down on the black sides of town, there was no longer a safe place to go. The black oasis, the hub, the streets of black freedom and commerce, slowly started to die. There was no place of pride and peace to return to. The shield was gone.