Mapping Segregation  

in Washington DC                

Mapping Segregation  

in Washington DC                

From Restrictive Covenants
to Racial Steering

A Special Exhibit on
the Fight for Fair Housing in Washington DC

2018 marks the anniversaries of several milestones in the history of fair housing.

June 1958. DC residents organized Neighbors, Inc. to combat racial steering and white flight.

This special exhibit has three components.

About the Project

Mapping Segregation in Washington DC reveals the profound impact of racially restricted housing on the nation’s capital. During the first half of the 20th century, restrictive deed covenants—which barred the conveyance of property to African Americans and sometimes other groups—largely controlled where DC residents lived. Real estate developers and white citizens groups used covenants to create and maintain racial barriers. Upheld by the courts, covenants assigned value to housing and to entire neighborhoods based on the race of their occupants, and made residential segregation the norm. Although eventually outlawed, covenants had a lasting imprint on the city. Their legacy was central to shaping DC's mid-century racial transformation; led to decades of disinvestment in areas where African Americans lived; and influenced residential patterns that persist today.

 

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