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Free the Deeds

Free the Deeds is a Minneapolis-wide public art project started in YEAR that aims illuminate our common history and offer a path to repair. LCC began collaborating with Free the Deeds in 2022. With your help we will invite every property in Greater Longfellow that had a racial covenant on it to display a lawn sign in its front yard to inspire learning and conversation. Every resident is also invited to co-create equity by supporting African American Community Land Trust home buyers with down payment assistance funds.

More About Racial Covenants

Mapping Prejudice, a project of the University of Minnesota, began to map racial restrictions in Hennepin County, and was the first-ever comprehensive visualization of racial covenants for an American city.  Mapping Prejudice volunteers have found and mapped more than 26,000 racial covenants in Minnesota’s Hennepin and Ramsey counties.

Watch the Twin Cities PBS’ Jim Crow of the North Stories, which uncovers the dark history of systemic racism, but also lifts up Black resistance and resilience in the past and the present-day changemakers bringing it to light and looking to right historical housing injustices.

What is a racial covenant?

 “Racial covenants appeared on deeds to land across America to prevent Blacks and other people of color from living in  all-White communities.
They were also added to the charters of many suburban communities to ensure they would remain exclusively white. Struck down in Minneapolis in 1953 and nationally in 1968, many of the racial covenants still remain on deeds as an unenforceable but bitter reminder of a legal racist past. The legacy of covenants has lingering results.
According to the Just Deeds website, the city of Minneapolis was 69% white in 2010. Even fifty years after laws were changed neighborhoods that had once racial covenants, continue to have higher than average percentages of white homeowners. In some areas  the percentage is as high as 90%”

– Excerpt from Hawona Sullivan Janzen in Women’s Press

How did racial covenants happen?

 Beginning in 1910, Minneapolis real estate developers began writing racial covenants into housing deeds to prohibit anyone who wasn’t white from owning or living in selected neighborhoods. Over the next 50 years, millions of racial covenants were written into housing deeds across the country. By the 1930s, real estate development companies were regularly writing racial covenants into their developments, affecting thousands of
 deeds in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Edmund Walton was one of these developers and was responsible for bringing racial covenants into our neighborhood. Learn about the neighbor-led effort to rename Edmund Boulevard.

free the deeds poem

Aren’t racial covenants banned?

  Racial covenants were banned by the Minnesota State Legislature in 1953, but by that point covenants had already accomplished what they were invented for – African Americans were denied affordable housing and were segregated into areas of the city that soon after were destroyed by the construction of the highway. Along with redlining, many African Americans were shut out of home ownership. The Twin Cities continue to be at the bottom of African American home ownership rates. Covenants divided our city by race, and ensured that African Americans would not be able to accumulate wealth and pass it down to their children.


Step 1.

Look up your property using the Mapping Prejudice Tool below to see if a covenant was found on your deed.

Look up

Step 2.

If a covenant was found, and you live in Minneapolis, click on the Minneapolis button below. If you live in Hennepin county outside of Minneapolis, click on Just Deeds button below. These buttons will send you to where you can fill out a form to receive free support to have your covenant discharged from your deed.

Mpls Just Deeds Application

Step 3.

Purchase a lawn sign and receive a free artist print and pick it up the LCC office.

Get Sign

Step 4.

Display your lawn sign to offer people the chance to see and feel the history of this discriminatory lending practice.

Step 5.

If you discover that your home did not have a racial covenant, we still encourage you to donate and receive an artist print and interact with this project’s resources with your family and community.

Get Print

Step 6.

Whether your home had a covenant or not, you can still fill out THIS FORM to become a supporter of the African American Community Land Trust and practice reparations through financially contributing the AACLT down payment assistance fund.