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Mapping Prejudice works to end racial covenants

Mapping Prejudice was formed in 2016 to try to identify and map all the racial covenants in Minneapolis. Racial covenants are clauses inserted into property deeds stating that the land can only be occupied by white people.

“The Twin Cities have some of the highest racial disparities in the country. And we wanted people to really understand that that is not natural. There's nothing inevitable about that. But it was deliberately created through time through specific policies,”said Kirsten Delegard, one of Mapping Prejudice’s co-founders and a trained historian.

Mapping Prejudice has found over 28,000 racial covenants in Hennepin and Ramsey Counties. Delegard says that by looking through when and where racial covenants were put in place, it became clear that they were not created as a racist reaction to newcomers, but rather as a prevention.

“Racial covenants were put into place as a pre-emptive. A pre-emptive effort to make sure that Minneapolis, the Twin Cities, and now we know Minnesota, would remain an all-white place. So it wasn't like, ‘Oh, we're just trying to segregate people,’ there was an attempt to just make sure that people who are not white, could not get any kind of foothold, cannot make any kind of community or mutual aid networks in this place,” said Delegard.

More than 7000 volunteers have transcribed deeds for Mapping Prejudice. Community Engagement Lead Rebecca Gillette says she has seen the impact the work has had on them.

“They have this emotional reaction, this aha moment of that this history actually happened. And so the question is, then well, what next? And I think that's where we hope individuals will take the next step. And we have lots of resources that we say, here's what you can do next. And we hope it changes people's minds so that when these bigger complex issues come up in the media or policy-making, they're better educated to understand what should be done because of this history.”

Since 2019, Minnesota law has made it possible for property owners to discharge the racial covenants found in their deeds. Mapping Prejudice partners with Just Deeds, which provides free legal and title services for property owners.

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