A Memoir of Race, Change, and Fractured Community in 1960s Chicago
Set against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement, Redlined exposes the racist lending rules that refuse mortgages to anyone in areas with even one black resident. As blacks move deeper into Chicago’s West Side during the 1960s, whites flee by the thousands.
But Linda Gartz’s parents, Fred and Lil, choose to stay in their integrating neighborhood, overcoming previous prejudices as they meet and form friendships with their African American neighbors.
The community sinks into increasing poverty and crime after two race riots destroy its once vibrant business district, but Fred and Lil continue to nurture their three apartment buildings and tenants for the next twenty years in a devastated landscape—even as their own relationship cracks and withers.
After her parents’ deaths, Linda discovers long-hidden letters, diaries, documents, and photos stashed in the attic of her former home. Determined to learn what forces shattered her parents’ marriage and undermined her community, she searches through the family archives and immerses herself in books on racial change in American neighborhoods.
Told through the lens of Linda’s discoveries of the personal and political, Redlined delivers a riveting story of a community fractured by racial turmoil, an unraveling and conflicted marriage, a daughter’s fight for sexual independence, and an up-close, intimate view of the racial and social upheavals of the 1960s.
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Praise for Redlined
Gartz’s unflinching family memoir offers both intimacy and insight into personal and historical injustices. She traces her parents’ marriage through joyful and troubled times in their Chicago neighborhood as they confronted rapid racial change in the 1960s. She deftly interweaves a story of family striving, domestic resentments, and individual decency with the seismic cultural shifts of America’s social and sexual revolutions.
In this remarkable memoir, Linda Gartz’s intent is to recover, understand, and make real the people and events that formed her life, taking her readers on a journey that is neither sentimental nor nostalgic. Committed to finding the truth at every turn, she tracks not only her own experiences, but also the social and cultural changes that reshaped twentieth-century America. The stories she tells and the insights she gains are marked always by clarity and depth.
Linda’s vivid and historic account of the dramatic racial change in the Chicago neighborhood we’ve both called home touched me personally. I arrived on the West Side with my brother, David, the new pastor of Bethel Lutheran Church, just as the first riots erupted in 1965. The Gartzes continued to provide quality apartments for two decades after other whites had fled, laying the groundwork for later housing efforts by Bethel and Bethel New Life. To sustain distressed communities, we need “remainers” like the Gartzes, as well as rebuilders.