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This interactive visualization shows the spread of racially-restrictive deeds across Minneapolis during the first half of the twentieth century.

What are Covenants?

Racial covenants were tools used by real estate developers in the 19th and 20th century 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 make this structural racism visible. Our interdisciplinary team of community activists, students and scholars from Augsburg University and the University of Minnesota is working to identify and map the property contracts that rendered many neighborhoods in Minneapolis racially exclusive.

Minneapolis 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.