1940-1960: Moving the Color Line

Highway spaghetti interchange near Detroit’s Ambassador Bridge. Interstate highways accelerated White flight. (From Google Earth)


Although redlining and similar policies aimed to contain a growing black population within the “color line” of the inner city, the “color line” did move as the Black population swelled and as Whites left the city. This necessary expansion of areas where Blacks lived and owned homes happened, unfortunately, under a real estate system called “blockbusting” or “panic peddling” that victimized both Blacks and Whites. Corrupt speculators spread panic on the White side of the color line that a Black family had successfully “crossed the line” and that White homeowners needed to sell their homes at any price. The speculators thus obtained homes below their market value which they proceeded to sell to Black families above their market value and often with “land contracts” that enabled the speculators to foreclose easily and to re-sell the homes for still more profit.

This chapter researches how the color line moved in Detroit through blockbusting, and the ways in which blockbusting destroyed the possibility of stable, integrated neighborhoods. It will also highlight the organizations that fought blockbusting.


This chapter is still under construction.
See story map in Chapter 1 for work sample of what this chapter could become.


1950 Population Density Dot Map

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