"Undesign the Redline" exhibit comes to South Bend

NOW: “Undesign the Redline“ exhibit comes to South Bend

SOUTH BEND, Ind.-- "Undesign the Redline" is an interactive exhibit now on display at the St. Joseph County Public Library main branch.

"Redlining" was used to deny predominantly Black families from buying homes in certain neighborhoods, essentially segregating South Bend and cities throughout the country. The exhibit explores how the practice contributes to inequality today.

"This contribution to the City of South Bend's history is really a part of a larger push that we're doing to figure out how to build financial empowerment for South Bend's Black residents who've been traditionally the victims of racism and disenfranchisement," said Antonius Northern, assistant director of business development for the city.

Redlining refers to the historic denial of services to specific areas deemed financially unstable. This discriminatory practice held predominantly African American communities back from building a better future for themselves for generations.

"We as a city are trying to lift up a portion of the population that really has had a tremendous struggle," Northern said.

The exhibit includes workshops and curriculum to educate South Bend about some of its darker history that still leads to inequality today.

"This display and this exhibit chronicles some of the experiences that they've had while inviting other residents to be part of the solution that we hope to build as an equitable future for all the residents of our city," Northern said.

The program kicked off Wednesday with the official launch of the exhibit, guest speakers, and a panel of South Bend natives. Northern referred to the panelists as "elders," and they told stories of their experiences growing up Black in South Bend.

"If we didn't have history to remind us of where we've been, we don't know where we're going," said Katheryn Redding, local panelist and community organizer with the Lost Heritage Foundation.

She said without learning our past, we cannot build a better future. She also said redlining still has residual effects left behind in the city.

"Redlining has impacted the communities of South Bend in such a way where you still have people being poisoned in lead contaminated houses," she said. "You have dilapidated housing stock here in South Bend."

The installation is on the second floor of the library on South Bend's Main Street and is free to view. The exhibit will eventually land at the newly renovated Martin Luther King Jr. Center in South Bend.

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