Portland’s Black Belt: Motives and Means in Albina Real Estate, 1940–1990

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African Americans -- Civil rights -- Oregon -- Portland -- History -- 20th century, Portland (Or.) -- Social conditions -- History -- 20th century, Social movements -- Oregon -- Portland -- 20th century, Civil rights -- Oregon -- Portland -- 20th century, Albina (Portland, Or.), Social justice


In 1960, Portland was the second-most segregated city on the West Coast, behind Los Angeles. Four of five Black residents lived in the Albina District. This presentation explores how the real estate industry, public officials, and citizens justified that spatial segregation. It traces the private- and public-sector mechanisms utilized to confine and re-shape Black settlement within Albina. A major motive for segregation was to enable financial exploitation of Black homeowners and renters, allowing housing-industry manipulators to extract wealth from the Black community.

Dr. Karen J. Gibson is an Emerita Professor of the Nohad A. Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University. Her scholarship seeks to answer questions about the political economy of racial economic inequality in the urban setting. Her publications have appeared in Cities, Feminist Economics, Transforming Anthropology, the Journal of Planning Education and Research, and the Oregon Historical Quarterly.

Recorded on Monday, May 22, 2017 at McMenamins Kennedy School, Portland, Oregon.

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