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
“. . . A captivating personal story told through the lives of her Chicago family, Gartz probes the invisible web of oppression that affected both whites and blacks. Redlining destroyed the American dream without its victims even knowing. But through the investigative work of Linda Gartz now we know.”
Gartz’s unflinching family memoir offers both intimacy and insight into personal and historical injustices. 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.
“Fearless and precise, Gartz has written a book that is impossible to put down.…An extraordinary achievement.”
“In this remarkable memoir, Linda Gartz . . .[is] 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.”
Deftly weaving together a treasure trove of detailed first-hand accounts, [Linda Gartz] provides an absorbing view into the life of a family unwittingly caught up in both its own domestic struggles and the turbulent social reckonings of the 1960s.
“A stunning debut memoir . . . . A rich remembrance of a captivating, transformative era in American history.”
“At every level this is an important story of personal hardship and societal blindness…ultimately intersecting with what has become the essential national topic, the racism that weaves itself through all our personal and shared histories.”
“Many watched from afar as Chicago and other major cities underwent rapid racial change in mid-twentieth century America. Linda Gartz lived it. . . . With her sharp eye, excellent writing, and unique perspective, she brings this critical and turbulent period to life.”
“Moving and deeply empathetic, Linda Gartz’s memoir illuminates the inner worlds of two generations of white working-class Chicagoans . . . who remained in a struggling black community long after their white neighbors had fled. The result is a deeply humane perspective on the ways that economic need, racism, and ideals of duty shaped the lives of urban white Americans in the twentieth century.”
Deeply personal yet wide in scope, Linda seamlessly blends her parents’ struggles as landlords on Chicago’s West Side with the injustices imposed on African Americans by racist housing policies. Redlined is a vivid and historic account of rapid racial change in the community Linda and I have both called home.
With tender and open-eyed concern, Linda Gartz adeptly explores how the human need for recognition and equality is waylaid both by doors slammed against legal access and connection and by the tyrannies of power wielded behind closed doors.