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Atlantic Documentaries

Inside the Battle for Fair Housing in 1960s Chicago

May 21, 2014 | 103 videos
Video by The Atlantic

When Clyde Ross, Mattie Lewis, and Ethel Weatherspoon settled in the West-side neighborhood of North Lawndale, they hoped to achieve the American dream of owning a home. At the time, however, federal policies known as redlining prevented blacks from getting real mortgages, forcing them to buy from real-estate speculators "on contract." The contracts, homeowners soon discovered, turned out to be a scam. In this short documentary, Ross, Lewis, Weatherspoon, and a community organizer named Jack Macnamara recount the story of how they formed the Contract Buyers League and fought back.

For more on the impact of housing discrimination in Chicago, read Ta-Nehisi Coates's Atlantic cover story, "The Case for Reparations."

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Authors: Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg, Sam Price-Waldman, Paul Rosenfeld

About This Series

Original short documentaries produced by The Atlantic