They Stole Our Boots: Part 2 - Racially Restrictive Covenants
From the Inkwell of: Bartholomew J. Worthington III
Racially Restrictive Covenants
As the era of Reconstruction tapered off following the Civil War, newly freed Blacks who were expecting to finally integrate into larger American society found their efforts hamstrung by a new set of racially discriminatory restrictions known as Jim Crow laws. Enacted to govern (read: limit) the social and economics interactions of Blacks and other minorities, these laws served to reinforce the notion of white superiority over other ethnic groups.
While all Jim Crow laws were designed to ensure that Blacks "stayed in their place", the most economically debilitating of these laws were the Restrictive Covenants.
Enacted in the early 1900s, racially restrictive covenants were provisions written into deeds that prohibited the sale or lease of a property to Black buyers/renters/. The widespread adoption of racially restrictive covenants had the ultimate effect of confining Blacks to inner city neighborhoods as suburban growth allowed whites to escape to the racially homogenous outskirts of most major cities.
Until they were ruled unenforceable by the Supreme Court in 1948, racially restrictive covenants were adopted by community builders, real estate firms, banks and even upheld by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). The FHA went as far as to recommend in its underwriting manuals that field should not insure mortgages on homes that were not in racially homogenous white neighborhoods covered by a restrictive covenants.
As a result of being excluded from achieving the same level of homeownership as whites for over 4 decades, Blacks lost out on one of the drivers of wealth creation. Because they were limited to only owning in certain, usually older and less maintained, neighborhoods, Black wealth creation was significantly hampered.
Which segues nicely into the third way our boots have been stolen: Redlining/Reverse Redlining.