Abstract

Family properties: race, real estate, and the exploitation of Black urban America

Part family story and part urban history, this work is a landmark investigation of segregation and urban decay in Chicago, and in cities across the nation. The "promised land" for thousands of Southern blacks, postwar Chicago quickly became the most segregated city in the North, the site of the nation's worst ghettos and the target of Martin Luther King Jr.'s first campaign beyond the South. In this book, the author identifies the true causes of the city's black slums and the ruin of urban neighborhoods throughout the country. It is not, as some have argued, black pathology, the culture of poverty, or white flight, but a widespread and institutionalized system of legal and financial exploitation. This is an account of a city in crisis; unscrupulous lawyers, slumlords, and speculators are pitched against religious reformers, community organizers, and an impassioned attorney who launched a crusade against the profiteers, the author's father, Mark J. Satter. At the heart of the struggle stand the black migrants who, having left the South with its legacy of sharecropping, suddenly find themselves caught in a new kind of debt peonage. The author