Mapping Prejudice Project builds first-ever database of restrictive covenants

Live in Minneapolis long enough and you may hear mention of the city's history of redlining and restrictive racial covenants in home warranty deeds.

If you're black, though, especially if your family roots here go back several decades, you hear more than just a mention. You hear the stories and the experiences of living in what was one of the nation's most segregated cities. And it's likely that you're all too aware of the profound impact that history has had on the Minneapolis of today.

The Mapping Prejudice Project began in 2016 with the belief that "we cannot address the inequities of the present without an understanding of the past." Co-founders Kirsten Delegard, Ryan Mattke, Penny Petersen, and Kevin Ehrman-Solberg set about the massive task of examining the warranty deeds for all the residential properties in Minneapolis from 1910 onward.

Earliest explicit racial covenant found thus far, from a warranty deed of 1910.

Restrictive racial and anti-Semitic covenants in the 1920s and 1930s became an actual "selling point" for Realtors and developers.

Advertisement placed by Edmund G. Walton in the Minneapolis Morning Tribune, January 12, 1919. In addition to the racial restrictions there is an anti-Semitic restriction as well.

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), created in 1934, was instrumental

in addressing the home ownership

crisis of the time, but its explicit directives to deny or limit financial services to certain neighborhoods based on racial or ethnic composi-tion without regard to the residents’ qualifications or creditworthiness did enormous harm to communities of color. The FHA required that city neighborhoods be classified into four levels of "desirability," with the lowest-classification neighborhoods -- deemed "hazardous" -- outlined in red.

The effects persist today. The StarTribune reported in August 2017 (HERE) that, based on census data, the homeownership rate for black households in the Twin Cities is the lowest of the nearly 80 U.S. cities with minority communities large enough for comparisons,

The authors of Minneapolis 2040 chose to bring the ongoing effects of Minneapolis' history of housing segregation to the fore. Good for them -- the issue needs honest discussion and action. Some advocacy groups chose to use that history as a cudgel to try to paint homeowners as smug racists intent on preserving their white privilege. Shame on them -- dialog works better than sticks and stones.

No magic solution has yet emerged, and people of good intent can -- and do -- disagree strongly on effective measures to take now. Data can have a much-needed clarifying effect on the conversation, and the Mapping Prejudice Project people are amassing mountains of it.

Go HERE to read through the MPP website.

View the TPT-2 documentary, premiered on February 25, 2019. "Why does Minnesota suffer through some of the worst racial disparities in the nation? The team behind Mapping Prejudice looks to answer that question by examining the his-tory of the spread of racist, restric-tive real estate covenants in the early 20th century. Jim Crow of the North charts the progression of racist policies and practices from the advent of restrictive covenants after the turn of the last century, their elimination in the 1960s through to the lasting impact on our cities today." [from the TPT-2 website.]

Watch these four videos produced by the University of Minnesota:

Part 1: Mapping Prejudice Project overview with Kirstin Delegard,

project director

Part 2 / MPP: Race & Space in 20th Century America, with Kevin Ehrman-Solberg, digital and geospatial director

Part 3 / MPP: Our Methodology, with Kevin Ehrman-Solberg, digital and geospatial director

Part 4 / MPP: Why This Matters, with Kevin Ehrman-Solberg, digital and geospatial director

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