presented in the housing practices of Jackson,
presented as a prima facie case of collusion
with other pro-white organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan, inter alia. Although
in many cases such connivances occurred, the influence of these organizations
was principally in the realm of urban politics, as Luce argues that the
Council’s members are, in Jackson, “pillars of the community. They are the kind
that run the Chamber of Commerce and the Community Chest, serve as officers of
churches and do the civic chores in every town worthy of name.”1
Further, the Councils provided a forum wherefrom many prominent Mississippi
politicians arose to political power, including the virulent segregationists
Fielding Wright and Ross Barnett, who served as Governors from 1946-1952 and
Herein, the immense political power and influence of the Councils interests in political
affairs and public policy at the local level can be recognized.
the question of the Councils influence in the housing practices of Jackson, in
particular, has remained largely ambiguous and are an area wherein further
academic research is required. The issue has been broached in the most
comprehensive disquisition on the subject by McMillen, wherein he asserts that
“Council spokesmen aligned themselves against a veritable cornucopia of liberal
objectives, including minimum wage legislation, open housing laws, social
Indeed, the political efforts of the Council and their subsequent “campaign to
repeal by constitutional amendment the state’s Unruh and Rumford acts, which
banned racial discrimination in the sale or rental of most privately owned real
property” is indicative of the advocacy undertaken in order to ensure the
continuance of redlining practices in Jackson and other regions.4
McMillen goes on to suggest that “there can be little question that
segregation, when draped in the raiment of private ownership rights, possessed
broad appeal outside of the South.”5 Hereunder,
this sort of animosity across a plethora of urban contexts is evident in other
cities such as Detroit, Los Angeles, and Boston, among others. The monumental
influence of Citizens’ Councils in shaping the housing practices of Jackson is
evident, however, this notwithstanding, is still an area fraught with dubiety.
Moreover, the city of Jackson itself
adopted the practice of federal redlining shortly after its introduction,
identifying predominantly African-American neighborhoods such as the Georgetown
District as prime targets for slum-clearance and renewal.6
The city thereafter aligned itself with the principle that “All of the
slum-clearance projects are to be planned and executed locally. To qualify for
Federal assistance, they must conform with comprehensive city plans for the
redevelopment of the locality as a whole,” an idea represented through communications
at the federal level. 7 Further, Jackson endeavored
to ensure the increasing segregation of its various neighborhoods through the implementation
of the de jure Jim Crow laws, which
are a feature largely unique to the segregationist environment of the Deep
South. Indeed, the language afforded under a Mississippi statute—that remains on
the books to the present day—provides that “Every person, firm or corporation
engaged in any public business, trade or profession of any kind whatsoever in
the State of Mississippi…is hereby authorized and empowered to choose or select
the person or persons he or it desires to do business with.”8
Herein, the ability of individual firms or corporations to select those with
which they do business greatly limited the efficacy of African-Americans who
sought homes and, furthermore, served as a continued cumber to their relief
from redlining practices both at the state and federal level.
Redlining, as a federal practice, has
unquestionably served as an impetus for the continued struggles of
African-Americans who seek to acquire property, especially under the urban
context. Indeed, the difficulties in confronting a practice enshrined in law,
policy, and communicatory memorandums remains a perpetual struggle and one that
is unlikely to be resolved without litigation within the legal system. Therein,
the litigatory concerns surrounding redlining remain to be presented, largely
because the practice itself serves to severely hamper the efficaciousness of a
legal remedy for African-Americans. Herein, it is Jackson, Mississippi which
serves as a case study for the impacts of federal redlining in a southern city.
The need for further scholarly consideration on the subject remains persistent,
as the finer nuances of the southern segregationist mentality—especially with
respect to the position of the Citizens’ Councils—remain a source of distinct
historical ambivalence. Federal redlining in Jackson is evident in the
continued segregation that remains intact from the city’s past and, indeed, the
discriminatory actions of mortgage lenders continue to propagate within the region.
Apropos legal precedent, which stands as the foundation for the commensurate
issue of redlining, federal and state laws, as much as local ordinance,
continue to engender the deleterious impacts of segregation on Jackson, leaving
the deferment of a resolution and its concomitant precise timing hereinafter a
matter of scholarly ambivalence.9
1 Phillip Abbott Luce, “The Mississippi White Citizens
Council: 1954-1959,” M.A. thesis (The Ohio State University, 1960).
2 James W. Silver, Mississippi:
The Closed Society (Jackson: The University of Mississippi Press, 1964):
3 Neil R. McMillen, The
Citizens’ Council: Organized Resistance to the Second Reconstruction, 1954-64 (Champaign:
The University of Illinois Press, 1971): 204.
4 Ibid., 146.
5 McMillen, The
Citizens’ Council, 146.
Hayashi, “Mississippi Bank Accused of Mortgage Redlining,” The Wall Street Journal, June 29, 2016.
of Labor Statistics of the United States Department of Labor, “Provisions of the Housing Act of 1949,” Monthly
Labor Review 69, no. 2
8 Miss. Code Ann. §97-23-17 (1956).
9 The author owes a considerable debt to the review of
his outline by Professor Emily Cummins, a Postdoctoral Fellow of Trinity
College prior to the compilation of this disquisition. The author is especially
indebted to the work of David Freund (cited hereunder), whose extensive
treatise on the history of the federal home ownership and home mortgage
programs of the Great Depression served as an inspiration for the present work.