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Thank you volunteers!

BY: The Mapping Prejudice Team

September 12, 2019

On August 29, our citizen researchers finished the herculean task of combing through 177,343 historic documents from Hennepin County in search of racial covenants.

Mapping Prejudice started as an experiment. We imagined harnessing the power of community to build the first-ever comprehensive map of racial covenants for an American city.

No one had ever done this before. But you brought our vision to life.

We were humbled by your response. Close to 3,000 of you volunteered.

We asked you to examine historic property deeds for racist language. You read 177,343 documents. You contributed 11,822 hours of labor. Some of you looked at thousands of deeds.

You identified about 30,000 racial covenants in Hennepin County. And you recorded the language and location of these discriminatory deeds.

Thank you for making Mapping Prejudice a success. And stay tuned. We will have lots of exciting developments in the months to come.

These dry legal clauses debunk a central myth of our community. We have been taught, collectively, that Minnesota never had any kind of formal segregation. That segregation and racial disparities were the product of some kind of natural order or personal choices.

Your work gave lie to this idea.

You did more than transcribe old documents. You confronted a difficult truth. The buying and selling of property has enriched white people and impoverished everyone else.

And you shared what you learned. You talked to friends, family members, neighbors and elected officials about the naked racism you saw. You recruited other people to read deeds. You connected these past practices with current racial disparities, explaining how our contemporary inequities were deliberately created.

We created Mapping Prejudice to change our collective understanding of the past. We want to build a constituency for policies that can remedy our yawning inequities.

You are powering this groundswell for justice.

Our Zooniverse portal is dormant, for a short time. But we are not finished.

Our team is building the digital platform for the dataset you created. By the end of the year, an online, interactive map will allow you to click on individual property parcels in Hennepin County and check for a covenant. Property owners who find covenants can fill out a form that allows them to "discharge" or denounce the racial restrictions.

This completed map will help us continue what we have begun together. We need to change the narrative around race, wealth, housing scarcity and affordability. This is the foundation for new, transformative policies.

We are also expanding our research to Ramsey County. We are working with the Ramsey County Recorder and Registrar of Titles to get a new batch of deeds for you to read on Zooniverse. We hope that you will continue to share your time and energy with Mapping Prejudice as we work to document structural racism in Minnesota.

If you have been using Zooniverse as a teaching tool, please continue. We have curated a collection of property deeds to read and transcribe. These transcriptions will not be used to build a new map. But this document set provides users with the experience of reading primary sources and hunting for covenants.

And please watch for the Ramsey County deeds. We want to make sure that learners of all ages can have the experience of contributing to an ongoing research project that is critical to the future of our community.

Thank you for making Mapping Prejudice a success. And stay tuned. We will have lots of exciting developments in the months to come.