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Mapping Prejudice documents history of racial injustice through restrictive housing deeds

By May 29, 2020September 16th, 2023No Comments
This ad in the January 12, 1919 Minneapolis Tribune by developer Edmund G. Walton offered "restricted" housing sites overlooking Lake of the Isles that could not "be conveyed mortgaged or leased to any person or persons of Chinese, Japanese, Moorish, Turkish, Negro, Mongolian, Semitic or African blood or descent."

This ad in the January 12, 1919 Minneapolis Tribune by developer Edmund G. Walton offered “restricted” housing sites.

The May 25 death of George Floyd, 46, at 38th and Chicago in South Minneapolis, is just the latest in a long history of racial injustice in Minneapolis.

The Libraries’ Mapping Prejudice project, for example, has documented how housing deeds were used to create structural barriers that stopped many people who were not white from buying property and building wealth for most of the last century. In Minneapolis, these restrictions served as powerful obstacles for people of color seeking safe and affordable housing.

‘Structural racism is really baked into … this city’

“Even though 38th and Chicago now is not seen as overtly white space, what these covenants show is that this intersection has always been a point of contention. ‘Whose space is this? Who gets to be here? Who doesn’t get to be here? And who’s going to enforce that?’” Mapping Prejudice Director Kirsten Delegard said recently to TIME magazine. “Structural racism is really baked into the geography of this city and as a result it really permeates every institution in this city.”

In today’s New York Times, reporters note that “the intersection where Mr. Floyd died … had an invisible barrier designed to keep out African-Americans.” They go on to cite the Mapping Prejudice’s work in identifying the language in the housing deed covenants “that prohibited black people from living in or purchasing” homes.

“We had this invisible system of American apartheid with these covenants,” Delegard told the New York Times reporters. “It’s a segregation of opportunity.”

More about Mapping Prejudice
Mapping Prejudice in the Media: June 2020

Since George Floyd died at the hands of Minneapolis police, the Mapping Prejudice Project has attracted media attention from around the world. The project has helped people understand why a global civil rights movement started in Minneapolis. It has illuminated the structural racism of a city long known for its progressive politics and pointed the way forward in this moment of historic reckoning.

Mark Engebretson

Author Mark Engebretson

More posts by Mark Engebretson

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