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Dr. Kevin McGruder on the Impact of Redlining

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by | Mar 30, 2021

Dr. Kevin McGruder, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of History at Antioch College, has completed his second book, Philip Payton: The Father of Black Harlemwhich will be published July 6, 2021, by Columbia University Press.

The book focuses on the life and successes of Philip A. Payton, Jr. who formed the Afro-American Realty Company in 1903 and, through the media, branded Harlem as a place where Black people could live and assembled Black investors to begin buying property in the then-predominately white, urban area. It is a follow-up to Kevin’s 2015 book, Race and Real Estate: Conflict and Cooperation in Harlem, 1890 to 1920, and stems from his long held interest in community formation and urban history.

Dr. McGruder recently spoke on the topic in a virtual seminar, The Impact of Redlining on Black Americans: addressing racism in real estate, organized by Columbia University’s School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. In his talk, Dr. McGruder expanded on topics covered in his books and began his talk by reading excerpts from the academic article, New Perspectives on New Deal Housing Policy: Explicating and Mapping HOLC Loans to African Americans, written by Todd M. Michney and LaDale Winling to answer the question “What is redlining?”

Dr. McGruder also explained what had happened three decades prior to redlining, looking at Harlem from 1890 to 1920 and how redlining came into practice: “The Depression era’s belief that the presence of Blacks reduced property values didn’t come out of thin air. It was being developed from the 1890s forward.” As Dr. McGruder explains, when the number of Black people living in Harlem increased, the hostility against them grew — stating that between 1904 and 1914, growing hostility led white residents to create tactics to establish a white terrain when one had not existed before.

Listen to the full seminar in the YouTube video below. Dr. Kevin McGruder’s speaks from 6:40 – 19:30, with further considerations on how to move forward at 53:38 – 54:47.