Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Tragedy of Chicago Segregation

This week, Mary Barr will be back in town discussing her book Friends Disappear: The Battle for Racial Equality in Evanston. Barr's memoir focuses on the lives of white and black school friends from the 70s, and how race and class affected the outcomes of their lives.

Evanston's path to racial integration has not always been smooth, yet it sounds positively idyllic when compared  with Chicago. As in many northern cities, real estate boards and banks, in collusion with the Federal Housing Administration's redlining, conspired to prevent African Americans from obtaining mortgages, refused to allow them to buy property outside of the "Black Belt" and forced them to resort to outrageous "contract " agreements for inferior overpriced housing. The result was overcrowded neighborhoods, black homeowners working 2 jobs to keep up with exorbitant payments, and family and neighborhood disintegration.

This month, Open Communities (formerly Interfaith Housing) in Winnetka honors the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's speech on the Winnetka green, in which he addressed racial segregation in the Chicago suburbs. As part of this observance, EPL will be discussing  Family Properties: Race, Real Estate, and the Exploitation of Black Urban America, historian Beryl Satter's memoir of Chicago's unequal housing system, and those who fought it, including her father. Her fascinating mixture of urban history and family memoir explores the conflicts between family loyalty, communal responsibility, and racial animosity which resulted in tragedy for so many. We will also look at contemporary issues related to open and affordable housing in Chicago, the suburbs and the nation.

Please join us on Wednesday July 15th at 7 pm at Evanston Public Library. All are welcome! Call 847-448-8620 to get a copy of the book.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post.. I was happened to read a book written on
    African American history. it was great knowing the history of Africa and America.