Visualizing the hidden histories of race and privilege in the urban landscape
We are a team of geographers, historians, digital humanists and community activists seeking to expose structural racism. We have led community members in the work of unearthing thousands of racial covenants that reserved land for the exclusive use of white people. This allowed us to build a map that shows how these racial restrictions were embedded in the physical landscape. We are expanding the geographic focus of our work to incorporate new communities. Please join us in this effort.
Meet Our Team
Why History Matters
Community leaders--including Julia Israel and former St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman--explain why a just future demands that we grapple with the history of structural racism.
Our response to COVID-19
Mapping Prejudice will be suspending presentations and face-to-face transcription sessions for the time being. We want to heed calls for social distancing, in the hope of "flattening the curve" and allowing our health care system to meet the needs of our community. We will not be out in large groups. But our work will continue. We want to facilitate the shift to online learning. In the weeks to come, we will work on creating resources that teachers can use to incorporate Mapping Prejudice in virtual environments.
This interactive visualization shows the spread of racially-restrictive deeds across Hennepin County during the first half of the twentieth century.
Click on a racially covenanted lot to learn more about the property. Use the search button at the bottom of the map to look for a specific address.
Racial covenants were tools used by real estate developers to prevent people of color from buying or occupying property. Often just a few lines of text, these covenants were inserted into warranty deeds across the country. These real estate contracts were powerful tools for segregationists. Real estate developers and public officials used private property transactions to build a hidden system of American apartheid during the twentieth century.
Inspired by the idea that we cannot address the inequities of the present without an understanding of the past, Mapping Prejudice was created to expose the racist practices that reshaped the landscape of Minneapolis. People of color see how discriminatory practices cascade through their lives, erecting barriers that limit access to housing, credit, education, and wealth. But the resulting physical, emotional, and financial baggage has been harder to recognize for people who have not personally experienced racism. Mapping Prejudice seeks to make these burdens visible by locating them on a digital, interactive map. The project team was inspired by a desire to create the first-ever comprehensive map of racial covenants for an American community.
The project started in Minneapolis, where research revealed that the city was not always segregated. Covenants helped remake the racial landscape of the city. As racially-restrictive deeds spread, African Americans were pushed into small and increasingly circumscribed neighborhoods. Even as the number of black residents continued to climb, ever-larger swaths of the city became entirely white.
The project is based at the John Borchert Map Library at the University of Minnesota. From this base, our interdisciplinary team of community activists, students and scholars has mobilized community members to identify discriminatory deeds. Thanks to the enthusiastic support of the community, the Hennepin County map was finished early in 2020.