Me on Discrimination in an unpublished commentary:
You raised an important point: Slavery was also rampant in the North, but yet, it is said that the north was so much better on the issue. I believe that racial discrimination is nothing that you can stop by law. It is something that goes away when technology, medias and society as a whole advance and start to debate it.
I think the best thing that happened for blacks and other minorities was the ascencion of media and the increase in communcation and information speed (and range). It is much harder nowadays to positively discriminate someone without running into a public uproar (which is at first a good thing).
I don't believe that a "law against discrimination" changes anything, because Europe has a lot of laws against racial discrimination. Yet, France hates its Muslim population (f.e. Muslim pop stars are rare - there is positive job discrimination), Germany isn't in love with its turkish immigrant population (same kind of things as in France), and Italien and Spain have equally constructed detention centers at the African coast. And all of these countries have extensive anti-discrimination laws, yet, society still discriminates, they just do it more subtle.