Tuesday, February 26, 2013


noun /ˈbläkˌbəstiNG/ 
The practice of persuading owners to sell property cheaply because of the fear of people of another race or class moving into the neighborhood, and thus profiting by reselling at a higher price

Below is an excerpt describing blockbusting from The Story of the Contract Buyers League by James Alan McPherson, published n the Atlantic monthly in April 1972:
Between 1958 and 1961, most of the southern part of Lawndale passed from white to black occupancy, with little enough push from the blockbusters.  Some merely hired black women to walk their children through white neighborhoods, or paid black men to drive noisy cars through an area a few times a day.  Sometimes it was a telephone call for "Johnnie Mae."  Another caller might simply say, "they're coming."  The whites sold, many at prices far below the appraised value of their homes.  And very shortly, sometimes within the same week, the houses would be resold to eager black families at inflated prices and at very high interest rates on installment purchase contracts.
Blockbusting was made illegal by the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which made it unlawful to induce any person to sell a dwelling by representations regarding the entry into the neighborhood of someone of a particular race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.1

1 42 USC § 3604(e)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Photos from the Lawndale Conversations Series: the Contract Buyers League

The audience listens to Professor Satter.
Jack Macnamara and Clyde Ross tell of the accomplishments of the CBL.
Jack Macnamara, Clyde Ross, Beryl Satter, and Charles Leeks (L-R)
The discussion with Mr. Ross continues.

NLHCS, NHS, Jane Addams Hull House Museum, and JCUA would like to thank all those who attended.  We received great feedback in our post event survey.  It was a wonderful and enlightening evening for all.  Please feel free to post and share your experiences or any comments below.

Look for audio postings from this evening in the near future.

(photos by Gordon Walek)