Redlining Racial Segregation

Students enrolled in Good Trouble: Black Agency Since 1865 joined their teacher Beth Krasemann and Chief Financial Officer Patrick Booth on a guided bus tour through the surrounding areas of Hartford on February 16. Filmed to also include remote learning participation, the class trip aimed to investigate the persistent reasonings of racial segregation as demonstrated by Hartford’s redlined maps of the 1930s to 1960s.

Beth Krasemann explains, “Contemporary patterns of racial isolation in the Hartford metropolitan region, as elsewhere across the country, stem from a mixture of historic and present-day policies. A number of past policies, promoted by both private and federal interests, encouraged racial segregation. Our class first studied a redlined map of Hartford from 1937 and researched to consider the developments of racial composition, wealth, and opportunity. By driving through parts of the map labeled red, we see the direct impact redlining had on these communities over 80 years ago. When we then drove over to the greenlined areas of West Hartford we recognized that these communities are doing quite well in comparison. This was a direct way to educate our students on why these policies and practices are deemed illegal and unfair today.”

Of the housing barriers that ethnic minorities within the US have faced in the 20th century, “redlining” is perhaps the most talked about—and for good reason. Redlining is the nickname given to the practice of rating certain neighborhoods as undesirable investment choices due to their racial and socioeconomic demographics. Banks then used these ratings when determining whether or not to authorize loan transactions for home purchases and improvements in those communities. By effectively directing capital investment away from “redlined” neighborhoods, this practice shaped the demographic patterns as well as the built environments of cities and suburbs across the US.

Although the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which is Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act, made redlining on a racial basis an illegal practice, evidence today shows that the neighborhoods redlined in the 1930s are now the areas of lowest opportunity in Hartford.

You may learn more about the history of redlining within the Hartford area here.