Discriminatory covenants were once used to keep people of color from buying houses in many Minnesota neighborhoods, including Lakeville. The result was a century of segregated communities. In 1948, the Supreme Court ruled that covenants were unenforceable. By 1953, the Minnesota Legislature prohibited the use of such restrictions in warranty deeds. But covenants remained commonplace in much of the nation until 1968, when the federal Fair Housing Act made them explicitly illegal. Even after they were illegal, for a long time there was no way to remove the language from property titles. Minnesota law now allows property owners to renounce discriminatory language from property titles.
Beginning in 2021, Dakota County entered into an agreement to allow Mapping Prejudice at the University of Minnesota to access digital property records, which allowed them to identify properties that are affected by discriminatory covenants.
Mapping Prejudice is a team of geographers, historians, digital humanists and community activists seeking to expose structural racism. The partnership with Mapping Prejudice and the efforts of its volunteer researchers is thought to be the first and largest of its kind in the country.
The resulting data and maps provide a history of discriminatory covenants and is part of allowing property owners and communities to address the adverse effects of these covenants on our communities. Mapping Prejudice has transcribed and mapped about 30 percent of the affected documents in Dakota County. The map of Dakota County will be released in stages as more documents are transcribed and discriminatory covenants are revealed.
For more information, visit MappingPrejudice.UMN.edu and Dakota County’s website.