This event was hosted at 6:00 p.m. CT on Tuesday, March 24, 2009, by the Newberry Library in Chicago.
Beryl Satter talked about her book Family Properties: Race, Real Estate, and the Exploitation of Black Urban America (Metropolitan Books; March 17, 2009). Professor Satter, chair of the history department at Rutgers University-Newark, recounted the story of rapid urban change in segregated, post-WWII Chicago. She profiled the city’s African-American population and a “dual housing market” that was fueled by discriminatory banking practices and policies of the Federal Housing Authority (FHA). Ms. Satter described the process known as “contract selling,” where landlords would sell African Americans overpriced homes and retain the titles while charging exorbitant interest rates. Upon missing a single payment, the buyer would be evicted and the process would start anew with another family. Ms. Satter talked about the work of her late father, Chicago attorney Mark J. Satter, to fight this exploitation and the extent to which the decline of black neighborhoods into slums was caused by a widespread scheme of discrimination, greed, and the racially biased credit policies of the nation’s banking industry rather than the absence of African-American resources. She responded to questions from members of the audience.
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