The Chicago Plan, Part 2: Resources

When violence failed to keep Blacks from seeking better housing, Chicago’s realtors developed a plan to promote restrictive covenants, which legally prevented white homeowners from selling to Black buyers. Chicago’s racial violence subsided, prompting other U.S. cities to copy their racist real estate practices. When the Great Depression hit, putting almost half of the nation’s mortgages underwater, the federal government made a fateful decision. To devise national housing policy, it looked to private-sector “experts” among Chicago’s realtors. Realtors wrote the rules and investment maps for the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC), which locked in the profoundly damaging practice of redlining for generations to come.

Chicago Race Riot &
The Red Summer of 1919

The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 was the most severe of approximately 25 race riots throughout the U.S. in the ‘Red Summer’ following World War I

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Bronzeville 1920s

From the turn of the twentieth century until after World War II, the term “Bronzeville” or “Black Belt” was commonly used to identify the predominately African American community on Chicago’s South Side. Originally a narrow corridor extending from 22nd to 31st Streets along State Street, Chicago’s South Side African American community expanded over the century until it stretched from 39th to 95th streets, the Dan Ryan Expressway to Lake Michigan.

Jesse Binga,
Chicago’s Black Banker

Jesse Binga was a prominent American businessman who., in the first decade of the 20th century, founded the first privately owned African-American bank in Chicago. Born in Detroit to an upper middle class family, Binga became a symbol of African American strivers in the early 20th century who tried to Binga recalled coming to Chicago in the 1890s with $10 in his pocket. By the 1920s he was a bank president and major real estate owner. Unwilling to conform to de facto, private real-estate segregation, white real estate interests sometimes opposed him violently.

Lorraine Hansberry Speaks

In this 1964 speech, Hansberry talks about her father, Carl, and his effort to fight racial covenants in 1937, and how his fight is part a long march towards civil, political and economic rights for African Americans.

Racially Restrictive Covenants

Racially restrictive covenants began to creep into cities across America in the late 19th century and often restricted other non-white groups and Jews from living in certain neighborhoods. Their usage began to accelerate in the 1920s as realtors, developers, and neighborhood improvement associations spread them, responding to the continued flood of African-Americans into northern and midwestern cities during the First Great Migration. Their increased usage was also a direct response to Buchanan vs Warley, a Supreme Court case that in 1917 struck down laws in cities like Baltimore, St. Louis and Louisville, that sought to create zoned racial districts to keep Blacks and whites separated.

How Chicago Real Estate Agents Created Segregation

Members of Chicago’s real estate community, led by Nathan Macchesney, were instrumental in designing and exporting not only racially restrictive covenants, but also designing the roots of redlining.

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