The Metropolitan Housing Coalition and the University of Louisville Oral History Center Partner to Launch Unfair Housing in Louisville: A Legacy Project

Louisville, KY (October 21, 2020)  – The Metropolitan Housing Coalition (MHC) and the University of Louisville Oral History Center have partnered on Unfair Housing In Louisville: A Legacy Project, an oral history project focused on documenting, understanding, and preserving the history of housing discrimination in Louisville. By preserving this history, we can help people to better understand the injustice perpetrated on Black families and the resulting inequities of homeownership, wealth, and opportunities in our society that live on today.

“Following the release of the 2019 State of Metropolitan Housing Report focused on addressing racial gaps in homeownership and wealth, MHC intensified our advocacy and education work to address the inequalities in our community,” said Tony Curtis, MHC’s Director of Development and Communications. “In our conversations with community members and policymakers, we heard the personal stories of individuals and families who have faced housing discrimination for generations and how that discrimination has affected each succeeding generation in building intergenerational wealth. These conversations drove MHC’s decision to launch an oral history project that will  document and preserve these family histories, as they are  critical both in understanding Louisville’s history and informing the path forward.”

Louisville has a past filled with racial discrimination in homeownership. While we look at the Redlining Project, and even intellectually understand that current maps of segregation that mirror the 1937 Redlining maps, we fail to absorb the legacy of generation after generation being denied access to the wealth building subsidized for White households. The data shows the legacy in Louisville- 36% of Black households own while 70% of White households own. Or that 50% of the Black households that own live in just 22 of 198 census tracts in Louisville.  

But, the data alone does not capture the collective understanding of discrimination in our city. The voices of the people directly impacted by this discrimination is vitally important. A collective understanding that emerges in family histories passed down; a collective understanding that is shared by more Black families in Louisville than White Louisville really understands. That collective understanding permeates our whole city but is only now, in this current movement for equity, becoming defined for all of Louisville. This project seeks to ensure that the collective understanding becomes historically preserved. We do this through family histories of discrimination as handed down across generations and the family assessment of how those acts of discrimination have shaped family histories. This history will be archived in the University of Louisville Oral History Center and available to scholars and to the  public.  

The impact of a shared inter-generational family history of exclusion is a legacy that Louisville must understand—and must be preserved in the archives for future generations—if we are to ever move forward.

The Metropolitan Housing Coalition and the University of Louisville Oral History Center received a grant from the Kentucky Oral History Commission to conduct 21 oral history interviews for this project. The project will be led by Tony Curtis at the Metropolitan Housing Coalition and Heather Fox at the University of Louisville Oral History Center, where the oral history interviews will be housed in the archives. Louisville journalist and historian Michael Jones will be conducting the interviews for the Unfair Housing in Louisville oral history project. If you are interested in participating as an interviewee in this project, please contact Tony Curtis at tony@metropolitanhousing.org.

To learn more about the Metropolitan Housing Coalition:  www.metropolitanhousing.org.

To learn more about the University of Louisville Oral History Center: https://ohc.library.louisville.edu/.

To learn more about the Kentucky Oral History Commission: https://history.ky.gov/resources/kentucky-oral-history-commission/

Media contact

Tony Curtis
Director of Development & Communications
Email: tony@metropolitanhousing.org