1550s, "act of segregating," from Late Latin segregationem (nominative segregatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of segregare (see segregate). Meaning "state of being segregated" is from 1660s. Specific U.S. sense of "enforced separation of races" is attested from 1883.
Rarely are we met with a challenge, not to our growth or abundance, or our welfare or our security, but rather to the values and the purposes and the meaning of our beloved nation. The issue of equal rights for American Negroes is such an issue. And should we defeat every enemy, and should we double our wealth and conquer the stars, and still be unequal to this issue, then we will have failed as a people and as a nation. [Lyndon Johnson, speech introducing Voting Rights Act, March 15, 1965]