What is a racial covenant?
"Racial covenants appeared on deeds to land across America to prevent Blacks and other people of color from living in all-White communities.
They were also added to the charters of many suburban communities to ensure they would remain exclusively white. Struck down in Minneapolis in 1953 and nationally in 1968, many of the racial covenants still remain on deeds as an unenforceable but bitter reminder of a legal racist past. The legacy of covenants has lingering results.
According to the Just Deeds website, the city of Minneapolis was 69% white in 2010. Even fifty years after laws were changed neighborhoods that had once racial covenants, continue to have higher than average percentages of white homeowners. In some areas the percentage is as high as 90%"
How did racial covenants happen?
Beginning in 1910, Minneapolis real estate developers began writing racial covenants into housing deeds to prohibit anyone who wasn’t white from owning or living in selected neighborhoods. Over the next 50 years, millions of racial covenants were written into housing deeds across the country. By the 1930s, real estate development companies were regularly writing racial covenants into their developments, affecting thousands of
deeds in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Racial covenants were banned by the Minnesota State Legislature in 1953, but by that point covenants had already accomplished what they were invented for African Americans were denied affordable housing and were segregated into areas of the city that soon after were destroyed by the construction of the highway. Along with redlining, many African Americans were
shut out of home ownership. The Twin Cities continue to be at the bottom of African American home ownership rates. Covenants divided our city by race, and ensured that African Americans would not be able to accumulate wealth and pass it down to
To connect and take action:
More information about the larger Just Deeds efforts in 11 cities and growing
The Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic, June 2014
With covenants, racism was written into Minneapolis Housing. The scars are still visible. MinnPost
Racially Restrictive Covenants in the United States: A Call to Action by Nancy H. Welsh
The Geography of Inequality, TedX Minneapolis talk by Kevin Ehrman-Solberg
Other artists making work about the related practice of redlining:
Warren Pope: Blood Lines, Time Lines, Red Lines
REDLINE by Celestia Cookie Morgan
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