Ask students to report on the contents of their comparison layer and the connections they made between that data and the covenants layer
What did your layer reveal about covenants and inequality today? Report the answers to the questions you answered:
- What information is your comparison layer showing?
- Describe the distribution of the comparison layer.
- Where are covenants in relation to the comparison data distribution?
- (*optional*) What is your data’s spatial relationship to historically relined areas?
- Summarize what we can say about this contemporary or historical phenomenon and its relationship to covenants.
- Brainstorm ideas about how we can make the links between the covenant data and the comparison data more robust.
- What other data sources would be interesting to analyze in relation to this dataset?
Once all of the students have presented their findings, lead a discussion about the connections between layers. It may be helpful to keep a written list of all of the information presented by students as they speak to the class– the distribution of comparison layers being of particular significance when discussing how these layers relate to one another. Ask students to consider where all of these variables are concentrated. How does the distribution of all of these layers compare to the distribution of ? What does it mean that all of these contemporary measures of inequality are concentrated in the same areas?
Have students discuss how their layers relate to one another. For example, the demographic layers showing areas with high-density people of color and the separate layer showing black residents reveal similar but unique things about the lasting impact of . When we look at the layer representing black residents, we see that they are still living in much smaller areas of the city –with even fewer instances where a census tract that contained covenants also contains a significant number of black residents today. When we look at the spatial patterns of people of color more broadly we see that while covenants still appear to have a significant effect on the demographic pattern we see today– there is a different relationship than we see with black families specifically.
Other discussion ideas:
- All the contemporary data are shown in this map available to visualize using PolicyMap along with hundreds of other community, demographic and economic measures. As students to explore other layers of interest to them. Do they follow a similar pattern to the variables discussed here? What about positive measures? Do they follow an inverse distribution? What is the frequency with which they coincide with covenants?
- Have a class discussion about potential methods of extending this research. Although compelling for telling a story, a visual comparison is one of the least robust forms of spatial analysis. How could we take the data contained in these visualizations and fortify their relationship with statistical methods for example?
Potential extension assignments
- Have students write a paper discussing what they learned. Ask them to flesh-out the connection between the issue examined and the history of covenants.
- What data layer did you compare to the distribution of covenants?
- What did that comparison reveal?
- How is this different that information that you could get from merely reading the text of an individual covenant?
- Prompt students make a Story Map researching and telling the story of their data in relation to covenants and the history of housing inequality. Educators can find resources on how to use Story Maps in the classroom on the UMN StoryMaps Curriculum Portal.
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."