‘FAMILY PROPERTIES’ chronicles one man’s battle against racist financial practices in the 1950s
All history is personal, according to conventional wisdom – but for Rutgers Associate History Professor Beryl Satter, some history is more personal than others. Family Properties: Race, Real Estate and the Exploitation of Black Urban America (Metropolitan), chronicles her late father’s battles against discriminatory and predatory lending practices in Chicago a half-century ago. In the process, Satter, chair of the history department at Rutgers University, Newark, combines a personal search to learn more about her late father, civil rights lawyer Mark J. Satter, with a carefully researched, searing study of massive financial discrimination and its decades-long repercussions.
Satter’s father paid a high price for his battle against racist real estate practices; he died broke, at 49, when Beryl Satter was only 6. As she grew up, she realized her father left a mixed legacy. Her mother spoke proudly of him, while other relatives felt he had wrongly impoverished his family while helping other people. It was a daughter’s determination to learn more about her father that led her to research and write Family Properties.
Since its release March 17, the book has already been hailed as “transfixing
from the first sentence” and “something close to an instant classic” by New York Times reviewer Dwight Garner (March 18, 2009). The Washington Post’s David Garrow calls Satter’s book “the most important book yet written on the black freedom struggle in the urban North.”
Satter’s research also shatters myths about how black ghettoes arose in America. She contends that it was neither the result of white flight nor because black poverty and subsequent neglect deteriorated the housing stock. Instead, she argues –using research to back up her claims — that discriminatory federal housing policies and financial exploitation were to blame.
Satter, a New York City resident, is a graduate of Harvard Divinity School and holds a doctoral degree in American Studies from Yale University.
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If you would like to arrange an interview with Beryl Satter, please contact Carla Capizzi, 973/353-5263, or Nicole Dewey, Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt and Company, at 646/307-5241.
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