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After Redlining

The Urban Reinvestment Movement in the Era of Financial Deregulation

After Redlining

The Urban Reinvestment Movement in the Era of Financial Deregulation

Focusing on Chicago's West Side, After Redlining illuminates how urban activists were able to change banks’ behavior to support investment in communities that they had once abandoned.

American banks, to their eternal discredit, long played a key role in disenfranchising nonwhite urbanites and, through redlining, blighting the very city neighborhoods that needed the most investment. Banks long showed little compunction in aiding and abetting blockbusting, discrimination, and outright theft from nonwhites. They denied funds to entire neighborhoods or actively exploited them, to the benefit of suburban whites—an economic white flight to sharpen the pain caused by the demographic one.

And yet, the dynamic between banks and urban communities was not static, and positive urban development, supported by banks, became possible. In After Redlining, Rebecca K. Marchiel illuminates how, exactly, urban activists were able to change some banks’ behavior to support investment in communities that they had once abandoned. The leading activists arose in an area hit hard by banks’ discriminatory actions and politics: Chicago’s West Side. A multiracial coalition of low- and moderate-income city residents, this Saul Alinsky–inspired group championed urban reinvestment. And amazingly, it worked: their efforts inspired national action, culminating in the federal Home Mortgage Disclosure Act and the Community Reinvestment Act.

While the battle for urban equity goes on, After Redlining provides a blueprint of hope.


“Recommended. This engaging book describes the successes and failures of energetic and committed neighborhood reconstruction activists. . . Marchiel’s compelling story of heroic activists fairly appraises the NPA, making this a useful text for activists and scholars in urban studies and financial market studies.” 


“The role of financial institutions in the segregation of urban America has been the subject of important recent works, but we still have much to learn about how citizens and activists challenged discrimination and exploitation by the banks. After Redlining not only fills that gap but challenges our understanding of the history of race, finance, and inequality. Marchiel’s compelling story will leave many readers shaking their heads in frustration at the comparative lack of grassroots activism against financial discrimination and predation today, while at the same time inspired by the tenacity, savvy, and ingenuity of the organizers who fill its pages.”

Andrew W. Kahrl, author of The Land Was Ours: How Black Beaches Became White Wealth in the Coastal South

After Redlining is a compelling and revelatory history of community activism, American banking, and the politics of inequality. Marchiel details how common-sense ideas about place, power, and economic fairness informed the work of ‘grassroots financial regulators’ who altered the national urban policy landscape, all the while moving seamlessly between rich local stories, Washington, DC, and a seismic restructuring of financial markets that undercut progressive reform. Essential reading on the persistent tension between finance and democracy in American history.”

David Freund, author of Colored Property: State Policy and White Racial Politics in Suburban America

"Discusses the relationship between urban community groups and their financial institutions during the last third of the twentieth century, presenting the story of the reinvestment movement’s lead organization in Chicago, the National People’s Action (NPA), and its impact on federal urban and banking policy."

Journal of Economic Literature

"Marchiel describes the efforts of a Saul Alinsky-inspired multiracial coalition of US low- and moderate-income city residents to combat the effects of redlining... [and finds] that these efforts inspired national action..." 

Law & Social Inquiry

Table of Contents

Introduction. Neighborhoods First

Chapter 1. Beyond the Backlash: Organizing against Real Estate Abuse in a “Transitional” Urban Neighborhood

Chapter 2. The FHA in the City: Red Lines and the Origins of the Urban Reinvestment Movement

Chapter 3. It’s Our Money: Defending Financial Common Sense in a Collapsing New Deal Order

Chapter 4. Communities Must Be Vigilant: The Financial Turn in National Urban Policy

Chapter 5. Reinvestment for Whom? The Limits of Bank-Led Reinvestment

Chapter 6. Let’s Make the Market Work for Us: The Lost Fight for Credit Allocation and the Rise of Community-Bank Partnerships

List of Abbreviations for Archival Collections

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