African-American History Month and Urban Planning
I have a post that I typically reprint with additions, which discusses Black History and Urban Planning.
-- "African-American History Month and (Urban and Transportation) Planning," 2017
A few weeks ago, on an e-list, someone exclaimed how an article they read about structural racism within urban renewal was revelatory. The article wasn't all that, but it made me realize that there are basic points about historical structural racism within land use and transportation planning practice which need to be constantly repeated and reinforced.
1. Until the late 1960s, the federal mortgage insurance program mandated segregation. When I first learned about this--not until around 2001--I was floored.
-- "The Racist Housing Policy That Made Your Neighborhood," The Atlantic
2. Segregated housing districts were often mandated by deed restrictions limiting the sales of property to Whites only. The Supreme Court ruled in 1948 that this was no longer enforceable, but just because this form of segregation was no longer legal didn't mean that the practice didn't continue.
Last week, I saw a very brief presentation by two local historians, on African-American history in Ward 4, where I live in DC. I've been aware of deed restrictions for a long time but hadn't been too interested. But even the brief presentation made me realize it's a lot more interesting than I realized.
-- Mapping segregation in Washington, DC, Prologue DC
Especially because of how long segregation in housing persisted after deed restrictions were ruled illegal--because the federal mortgage insurance underwriting restrictions remained intact.
3. Urban renewal, focused on maintaining property values in central business districts and the cores of center cities, was, yes, often focused on ridding center city districts of low income residents, usually African-American. It wasn't called "Negro Removal," a point made first probably by writer James Baldwin, for nothing.
-- "Urban Renewal Under Fire," Congressional Quarterly Researcher
Similarly, DC's Alley Dwelling Authority, created in 1934 and rolled into other programs later, which aimed to eliminate alley housing, typically well-placed and lived in by African-Americans was a precursor to the broader urban renewal program.
-- "Wagner-Steagall and the D.C. Alley Dwelling Authority: A Bid for Housing-Centered Urban Redevelopment, 1934–1946," Journal of the American Planning Association, 78:4 (2012)
4. Center city freeway construction programs too were a tool of reproducing space in a manner that forced out center city residents, usually Blacks, and divided neighborhoods. It turned out that freeways weren't such a great tool for urban revitalization, making the city just as easy to avoid as it was to visit.
-- "From racial zoning to community empowerment: The interstate highway system and the African American community in Birmingham, Alabama," Journal of Planning Education and Research, 2002
-- "Old 'Green Book' Guides for African American Travelers Get Republished in the Age of Trump," Newsweek
-- "Pit stops of safety," Architect Magazine
Separately, I think that the "Taste of Black Austin" event in Austin, Texas is cool.
-- "Taste of Black Austin returns to celebrate black food history, culture," Austin American-Statesman