What is a Covenant?

A racial covenant is a restriction on who can live in or own a house or property, based on race. A racial covenant was written into a property’s deed, so no matter who lived there, as long as the covenant was legally in effect it would restrict who could live in the house.

How did redlining happen?

Beginning in 1910, Minneapolis real estate developers began writing racial covenants into housing deeds to prohibit anyone who wasn’t white from owning or living in selected neighborhoods. Over the next 50 years, millions of racial covenants were written into housing deeds across the country. By the 1930s, real estate development companies were regularly writing racial covenants into their developments, affecting thousands of deeds in Minneapolis and St. Paul. 

Racial covenants were banned by the Minnesota State Legislature in 1953, but by that point covenants had already accomplished what they were invented for--African Americans were denied affordable housing and were segregated into areas of the city that soon after were destroyed by the construction of the highway. Along with redlining, many African Americans were shut out of home ownership. TheTwin Cities continue to be at the bottom of African American home ownership rates. Covenants divided our city by race, and ensured that African Americans would not be able to accumulate wealth and pass it down to their children.