Lawrence was found to be one of the least segregated of 219 U.S. cities ranked in a USA Today study on racial segregation.
Local officials said they were not surprised by the city's ranking in the study, published in Monday's edition of the national newspaper. But a city human relations specialist said the high ranking should not lead one to believe Lawrence has no problems with segregation.
"We are very much aware that there are pockets of extreme segregation in Lawrence," said Allegra White, specialist with the city's human relations department, which investigates allegations of discrimination in housing and employment. "We are also aware that fair housing is not ideal in this city, that it needs more work."
USA Today examined 1990 Census data in 219 major metropolitan areas to analyze the extent of residential segregation. The study ranked Lawrence 211th, one of the least segregated. It ranked Detroit first.
Rankings of other local metro areas: Topeka, 167th; Wichita, 114th; Kansas City, 46th.
Mayor Bob Walters said he thought Lawrence was pretty well integrated but also was aware that the community still had problems.
"That's why we formed the Lawrence Alliance," he said.
The alliance is a community group formed to address concerns relating to discrimination and to find creative remedies to such problems.
Ann Weick, member of the group, said that in addition to race, communities were segregated on the basis of such things as physical condition, income and age.
The newspaper's study uses a "segregation index" to indicate how closely the racial and ethnic mix of each neighborhood matches the mix in the whole metropolitan area.
For instance, Lawrence was assigned a combined segregation index of 35. That means 35 percent of either minority or white residents would have to move from segregated neighborhoods to achieve integration. Detroit, in contrast, has a combined index of 83.
The study also included black, Hispanic and Asian indexes showing how segregated each minority group is from non-Hispanic whites.
Lawrence's minority indexes: Blacks, 38; Hispanics, 21; Asians, 43. Those minorities make up 12.3 percent of Lawrence's population, according to the study. However, White said that according to census figures, minorities comprised 12.9 percent of the city's population.
USA Today said its study did not analyze other groups, including Native Americans, because of their small numbers in most metropolitan areas.