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'Undesign The Redline' Traces History Of Redlining

A map at the Undesign the Redline exhibit shows the use of redlining to create neighborhoods in New York City. [Matt Richmond / ideastream]
map of redlining

On the walls of a conference room at Mt. Pleasant NOW’s offices, there’s a timeline connecting the practices of redlining to the Jim Crow laws that came before in many cities.

Redlining was the practice of designating certain neighborhoods – usually minority ones – “undesirable” for economic investment.

The Mt. Pleasant NOW Community Development organization is hosting an exhibit on the practice's history.

The organization's executive director, Nicholas Perry,  said the exhibit, 'Undesign the Redline,' is meant to educate people on why some neighborhoods are so underdeveloped.

“There’s been an ailment, a sickness, a cancer if you will,” said Perry. “Ok, redlining, this is your diagnosis. Now we can have a positive prognosis by figuring out ways to undesign this redline.” 

To undo the redline in the short term, Perry says changes could be made to predatory lending laws or insurance companies could change the way they calculate risk.

The exhibit opens to the public Friday night and will be at Mt. Pleasant NOW until the end of October.

Matthew Richmond is a reporter/producer focused on criminal justice issues at Ideastream Public Media.