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The GI Bill - Redlining- Let's Talk About Race

Updated: Sep 6, 2020

"When a man gets out of the Army or Navy or Marines he's worried most about a job, an education and a home. And that's why Congress, led by the president, passed a law: The Serviceman's Readjustment Act of 1944, better known as the GI Bill of Rights."

Signed into law in 1944, the bill promised every GI Joe and GI Jane the building blocks of what would become the American dream: low-cost loans to buy a home and, perhaps most important, a free college education.

In all, 16 million veterans benefited in various ways from the G.I. Bill. President Bill Clinton declared it “the best deal ever made by Uncle Sam,” adding that it “helped to unleash a prosperity never before known.”

For white people, that is. The lack of access to a family home meant a long-term loss of wealth for black Americans. A family home purchased in 1946 in a good neighborhood with a strong tax base and solid schools, became financial wealth to pass onto family members, borrow against to start a business, or to send kids to college.

When my dad, honorably discharged from the black army, died in 1977, the home he purchased by land contract (no VA loan was available to him in the redlined area) was valued at less than the $6000 he bought it for in 1952.

When my uncle Seitoy, honorably discharged from the white army, died in 1990, the home he purchased at a comparable price in a greenlined area was valued at $100,000+.

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