• Race Financial Institutions, Credit Discrimination And African American Homeownership In Philadelphia, 1880-1960

      Jenkins, Wilbert L., 1953-; Kusmer, Kenneth L., 1945-; Collier-Thomas, Bettye; Goldstein, Ira (Temple University. Libraries, 2011)
      In the wake of Emancipation, African Americans viewed land and home ownership as an essential element of their "citizenship rights." However, efforts to achieve such ownership in the postbellum era were often stymied by credit discrimination as many blacks were ensnared in a system of debt peonage. Despite such obstacles, African Americans achieved land ownership in surprising numbers in rural and urban areas in the South. At the beginning of the twentieth century, millions of African Americans began leaving the South for the North with continued aspirations of homeownership. As blacks sought to fulfill the American Dream, many financial institutions refused to provide loans to them or provided loans with onerous terms and conditions. In response, a small group of African American leaders, working in conjunction with a number of the major black churches in Philadelphia, built the largest network of race financial institutions in the United States to provide credit to black home buyers. The leaders recognized economic development through homeownership as an integral piece of the larger civil rights movement dedicated to challenging white supremacy. The race financial institutions successfully provided hundreds of mortgage loans to African Americans and were a key reason for the tripling of the black homeownership rate in Philadelphia from 1910 to 1930. During the Great Depression, the federal government revolutionized home financing with a series of programs that greatly expanded homeownership. However, the programs, such as those of the Federal Housing Administration, resulted in blacks being subjected to redlining and denied access to credit. In response, blacks were often forced to turn to alternative sources of high cost credit to finance the purchase of homes. Nevertheless, as a new wave of African American migrants arrived to Philadelphia during post-World War II era, blacks fought to purchase homes and two major race financial institutions continued to provide mortgage loans to African Americans in Philadelphia. The resolve of blacks to overcome credit discrimination to purchase homes through the creation of race financial institutions was a key part of the broader struggle for civil rights in the United States.