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“I Want To Buy That Land, “Oh! Really??” Part 1 “Mapping for Structural Racism and Prejudice” Covenants, Deeds and Restrictions
By Jeanette Grattan Parker
Published December 3, 2020

 

Dr. Jeanette Parker 

Some of the land that you want to buy may be under covenant. Read on……..

As I was scanning websites, I came across this word, “mapping.” It aroused my interest and as I began to read, that was around May, I saw something quite interesting. It was an article called, “Mapping Prejudice.” Sounds interesting, huh? I thought I had reported something to you about this some months back; but now I would like to give more insight into this subject. After mentioning this to my husband, he told me that there is property now existing where you cannot get the oil rights, because it’s under a restrictive covenant. Bringing this to more familiar knowledge, it interested me. This was during the time of the “Mr. Floyd” choking event, which further drew my attention to the territory and subject matter. I asked, “Why?” The picture shows a group of geographers and researchers who have uncovered and explored “Mapping Prejudice.” This active organization and its works are in the Libraries of the University of Minnesota, the University of which I am a graduate. Photo: scholars, geographers and volunteers looking into the matters of racial land discriminating practices, racially-restrictive deeds. Libraries University of Minnesota.

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During the (20th) twentieth century, racially-restrictive deeds were a ubiquitous part of real estate transactions. Covenants were embedded in property deeds all over the country to keep people who were not White from buying or even occupying land; their popularity has been well documented in St. Louis; Seattle; Chicago; Hartford, Connecticut; Kansas City and Washington D.C. Though covenants were everywhere, they did mutate over space and time. Those authored in the first years of the twentieth century have a different flavor than those recorded after World War II. The racial preoccupations of developers in Washington state were different from those of North Carolina. But all of these documents were blunt. For example, one common Minneapolis covenant reads: “the said premises shall not at any time be sold, conveyed, leased, or sublet, or occupied by any person or persons who are not full bloods of the so-called Caucasian or White race.” In Minneapolis, the first racially-restrictive deed appeared in 1910, when Henry and Leonora Scott sold a property on 35th Avenue South to Nels Anderson. The deed conveyed in that transaction contained what would become a common restriction, stipulating that the “premises shall not at any time be conveyed, mortgaged or leased to any person or persons of Chinese, Japanese, Moorish, Turkish, Negro, Mongolian or African blood or descent.”

• Henry Scott would soon become the first president of the Seven Oaks Corporation, a real estate development company that put this same language into thousands of deeds across the city.

• When this first racially-restrictive deed was written, Minneapolis was not particularly segregated. But covenants changed the landscape of the city. As racially-restrictive deeds spread, African Americans were pushed into a few small areas of the city. And even as the number of Black residents continued to climb, ever-larger swaths of the city became entirely white. This laid the groundwork for our contemporary patterns of residential segregation. (This goes to show one avenue where crime can be produced with lack of space to breathe and prosper.Jegp) These unjust deeds,” as one scholar has dubbed them, were the brainchild of the real estate industry. But they were quickly embraced by public officials, who saw them as a way to promote neighborhood stability. In the 1930s, federal housing administrators endorsed these legal instruments, requiring them for projects that used federally-backed financing. Lenders followed suit, accepting the rationale that covenants provided essential insurance for their investments in residential property. Banks made it a routine practice to “redline” or deny loans for properties in racially-mixed neighborhoods. This reveals how a number of participants, including real estate developers, banks, public agencies and public officials perpetuated this practice of racially-restrictive deeds, covenants and restrictions. https//mappingprejudice.umn.edu/what-are-covenants/index.html

Part 2 To Be continued:

Jeanette Grattan Parker, Founder-Superintendent Today’s Fresh Start Charter School 323-293-9826 www.todaysfreshstart.org; [email protected] [email protected] tm “Inquiring minds want to know.”© All rights reserved©Askdrjeanetteparker.com tm TodaysFreshStart.org Today’s Fresh Start Charter School 323-293-9826.

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