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Units March 31, 2022

Redlining and Wealth Accumulation

Lesson Summary: Students examine the historical practices and legal policies that helped establish the current economic inequities among racial and ethnic minorities in their local communities and throughout the United States. Downloads: Redlining and wealth final unit materials

This unit was created by US History Educators in New Brunswick Public Schools, as part of the 2021 cohort of The 1619 Project Education Network. It is designed for facilitation across approximately 1-to-2 weeks, or 4-to-5 80-minute class periods.


  1. Students will be able to explain how federal, state and local housing laws and policies advantaged white Americans throughout the 20th century, especially during the years from the Great Depression to the civil rights movement.
  2. Students will be able to identify the legal structures that were put in place to create de jure segregation and the policies that were developed to remedy past injustices.
  3. Students will be able to understand and explain how housing policies affect public schools and other community structures. 

Essential Questions

  1. Why are so many American communities segregated?
  2. What does segregation look like in my local community? 
  3. What other parts of the community are affected by housing discrimination and segregation? 
  4. What initiatives can be developed to remedy past inequities that were implemented by housing policies and laws?

Unit Overview

The accumulation of wealth is the driving force of US Capitalistic society. The idea of the American Dream is the impetus for generations of citizens and immigrants to seek opportunities to better themselves and members of their families, which, in turn, develops strong and vibrant communities. This vision and dream have not been received by all factions of society. 

This unit will examine the current realities of the American Dream and explore the historical practices and policies that aided the establishment of the current economic inequities among racial and ethnic minorities in their local communities.

In addition to assessing the historical frameworks that were put in place from a legal lens, students will also engage in problem-solving tasks that will allow them to develop solutions to longstanding historical ills that are applicable today.

Performance Task

Civic Engagement Activity: Group Research Task & Oral Presentation

Read the History of the Mount Laurel decision and view selected clips from the Jim Crow of the North documentary. Examine the parallels between the events around the New Jersey Supreme Court case and the current housing segregation in New Jersey. Create a presentation for an audience of New Brunswick City Council Members and New Brunswick Housing Authority detailing 2-to-3 initiatives you would recommend we put in place to address the issues of inequity your group uncovered.


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