A recent program to study the history of racial housing covenants in Mankato represents another step to understanding local discrimination and doing something about it.

The Mapping Prejudice Project introduced local residents to a University of Minnesota study of racial housing discrimination in Minneapolis that determined many housing deeds from 1910 to the 1960s contained clauses showing homes could not be sold to people of color.

The local program, sponsored by Blue Earth County, the Mankato Diversity Council and Minnesota State University College Democrats, drew about 100 people interested in learning more about discrimination in Mankato.

The Minneapolis study showed thousands of people were discriminated against in housing, and more important, likely shaped the neighborhoods of Minneapolis to have widely divergent property values depending on who was able to buy property.

In Minneapolis, homes sold with race-restricted covenants had values $36,000 more than the median priced home. The homes in neighborhoods where families of color lived were valued $66,000 lower than the median priced homes.

Experts argue these kind of practices have denied people of color access to wealth for generations.

So far, the project in Minneapolis uncovered 30,000 racial covenants from 177,000 documents culled from 38,000 deeds. It’s one of the largest efforts in the country to uncover this discrimination in housing. Blue Earth County officials have sent 3,000 deeds to researchers to understand how housing discrimination may have played out locally.

The project asks for volunteers to read deeds once they are put into categories based on computer modeling and algorithms. On the Minneapolis project, some 3,000 people volunteered.

If the attendance at the Mankato program is any indication, there will likely be hundreds of volunteers to do this work locally.

Understanding the hidden history of racial discrimination in housing will give us a clearer picture of our own problems and may indeed reveal housing patterns in Mankato that developed based on discriminatory practices.

Some of those discriminatory housing restrictions may be present still today based on housing values and school district boundaries. There’s much to uncover and much to learn.

We encourage volunteers to get involved in this effort. The research into housing deeds may uncover racial injustices, and a community’s racial equity is only as good as its racial justice.

To get involved in the Mapping Prejudice project contact Bukata Hayes at the Greater Mankato Diversity Council at bhayes@mankatodiversity.org or 507-385-6653.

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