Economic Imperatives and Race Relations: The Rise and Fall of the American Apartheid System Drawing upon secondary sources, we analyze how contemporary US social institutions continue to produce racial differentials despite considerable pressures for institutional changes to reduce or eliminate those differentials. We argue that the post-Civil War industrial revolution brought economic imperatives that shaped the labor pool and created occupational segregation by race. The principle of racial segregation subsequently permeated other social institutions, most notably the political, educational, and residential institutions, to form the American apartheid system by 1918. Between the world wars, the US strove for global economic dominance by a state collaboration with corporate interests to maintain the apartheid system. The apartheid system was the basis for the 1945 achievement of US economic dominance. During the phase of unchallenged economic dominance, black resistance combined with global criticisms of racism to dismantle the apartheid system. When US global economic dominance faded in the 1970s and 1980s, a white backlash occurred against black economic and political gains.