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Richard Taub
University of Chicago
Chicago, Illinois

Interviewed by Lynn Adler and Jim Mayer
Producers of Faith, Hope and Capital

Professor Richard Taub studied the Chicago neighborhood of South Shore as it changed from a nearly all white community to a nearly all black community, and evaluated the impact of the new ownership of South Shore Bank.

Read a portion below or go to a printer-friendly page of the full interview.

LA: Richard, could you start by describing briefly the kinds of changes that took place in South Shore in the sixties?

RT: To begin with, South Shore had been a kind of middle-class to upper-middle-class bedroom community——white people, mainly, people who worked downtown in businesses. Beginning in the 60s, African-Americans began moving into the community. As is the case in many other such communities, as the African Americans moved in, the whites began to move out. That's a little bit of a simplification, because the first African-Americans who moved in tended to be quite well-off people. There was an early phase in which the white residents of South Shore, or some group of them, made a real effort to have an integrated community and to keep the community attractive to all people. They persuaded the real Mayor Daly, the original Mayor Daly, to build a new high school. They tried to get the country club——there was a big country club in South Shore--to take a broader diversity of members. So, there is a real attempt made to make it an attractive, integrated community.

But, as is often the case, the community reached what sociologists call a tipping point. As the numbers of African-Americans grew and the whites began to leave, landlords did a certain amount of disinvesting; they stopped taking care of their buildings. Then, it got harder and harder to get mortgages for new housing, harder and harder to get insurance. That whole package of events is what people call "red lining" ——a practice in which you draw a red line around a community, on the map, and you say, "We're not going to lend these people money anymore; we’re not going to give them insurance"

Mayor Daly used to have an expert who would tell him when a community was "finished", which meant that it had racially tipped. At a certain point, they decided South Shore had racially tipped and so they wrote off South Shore.

Full interview for printout


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