Racism, Redlining, and the Chicago Reinvestment Movement

Saturday, April 17, 2021, 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

Type: Roundtable Discussion

Tags: Ethnicity; Race; Urban and Suburban


Starting in the 1970s, Chicago was a national center for the battle against bank redlining. Many antiredlining activists had roots in the civil rights movement. Black and Latino urban neighborhoods, and white areas adjacent to them, suffered most from redlining. Early drafts of the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act called for banks to attend to the credit needs of “persons from minority groups.” Yet the reinvestment movement also included racist neighborhood groups. Antiracist language gradually disappeared from the reinvestment movement. How did the reinvestment movement negotiate racism within and outside its ranks? What happened to antiracism in Chicago’s (and national) reinvestment movements over time? Who benefits from antiredlining practices intended to redress disinvestment? Can reinvestment be discussed, or remedied, without fighting racism? 

Session Participants

Chair and Commentator: Beryl E. Satter, Rutgers University–Newark
Beryl Satter is the author of Family Properties: Race, Real Estate, and the Exploitation of Black Urban America. She is professor of history at Rutgers University-Newark and is currently working on a book about the Chicago reinvestment movement. (organizer of this roundtable)

Panelist: Michael Bennett, DePaul University
Michael Bennett has been a community organizer, a banker, a teacher and researcher in the fields of urban and rural community organizing and economic development.  Currently, he is an Associate Professor in DePaul University’s Department of Sociology.   He held several positions with the nation’s first community development bank, ShoreBank Corporation.  He is a founding board member of The African American Leadership and Policy Institute, the Asset Based Community Development Institute, the Imani Village LLC, the Endeleo Institute, and the Fathers, Families and Healthy Communities initiative.  His most recent publication is “The Chicago Bid to Host the 2016 Olympics: Much Promised, Little Learned” with Larry Bennett, Stephen Alexander and Joseph Persky, in Neoliberal Chicago.

Panelist: Calvin Bradford, Calvin Bradford & Associates, Ltd.
Calvin Bradford worked closely with National Peoples Action to help pass HMDA and the CRA.  He has been the principal or co-principal investigator on numerous local and national research projects on urban development, disinvestment, reinvestment, housing policy, and fair lending.  He headed Community Reinvestment Associates, 1989-1997, and then Calvin Bradford and Associates, Ltd.  He is currently working on responses to Trump’s attacks on the CRA.  

Panelist: John McKnight, Northwestern University
John McKnight is the CoFounder of the Asset Based Community Development Institute, Professor Emeritus at Northwestern University and Senior Associate at the Kettering Foundation. He did initial studies of "redlining" with a team at Northwestern University and was involved in the initiation and support of the Contract Buyers League. Working with National Peoples Action, he supported the effort to pass the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) and the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA).

Panelist: Otis Monroe, The Monroe Foundation
Otis Monroe is the founder and CEO of the Monroe Foundation, a not-for-profit community and enterprise development intermediary that has been providing technical assistance to community and economic development projects in low-income communities since 1991.  He previously worked as a community organizer and, in the 1980s, with Gale Cincotta and National Peoples Action. 

Panelist: Helen Murray
Helen Murray was the Redlining and Reinvestment staff person for National Peoples Action and its affiliated the National Training and Information Center. In that capacity, she was intimately involved in the battle to pass the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act and the Community Reinvestment Act. After 1985, when she left NPA and NTIC, she taught high school for many years.