The Color of Law

The Color of Law

A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America

Richard Rothstein

In 1941, a New Jersey real estate agent representing a new development in suburban Fanwood, about twenty miles west of Newark, attempted to sell twelve properties to middle-class African Americans. All had good credit ratings, and banks were willing to issue mortgages if the FHA would approve. But the agency stated that “no loans will be given to colored developments.” When banks told the real estate agent that without FHA endorsement they would not issue the mortgages, he approached the Prudential Life Insurance Company, which also said that although the applicants were all creditworthy, it could not issue mortgages unless the FHA approved. Today, Fanwood’s population remains 5 percent black in a county with a black population of about 25 percent.

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