This lesson is about introducing students to the power of spatial thinking. The lesson draws on the background information contained in the previous lesson. For more contextual information, or to introduce this lesson without completing the first lesson on reading primary sources, you may use the following background contextual resources. First is a the documentary Jim Crow of the North. The film is based on the work of Mapping Prejudice and can serve as a fantastic pre-learning resource to use with the activities in this lesson. You may also use this Story Map, which contains interactive versions of the covenant and redlining maps along with explanations of the history. Both of these resources are shown below.
After students have a foundational understanding of what a is and how these discriminatory tools were used, this lesson works to build their understanding of how they functioned in space. Beyond understanding spatial relationships particular to and discriminatory housing, this lesson pushes students to consider what can be revealed by locating something in a place and analyzing spatial relationships. To get students thinking spatially, we start with an exercise that compares spatial and non-spatial modes of thinking.
“Jim Crow of the North” a documentary based on the work of Mapping Prejudice
Seeing Inequality is a Story Map that walks students through an interactive version of the data and redlining maps.
During the 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."