Set against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement, Redlined exposes the racist lending rules that refuse mortgages to anyone in areas with even one black resident. As blacks move deeper into Chicago’s West Side during the 1960s, whites flee by the thousands. But Linda Gartz’s parents, Fred and Lil choose to stay in their integrating neighborhood, overcoming previous prejudices as they meet and form friendships with their African American neighbors. The community sinks into increasing poverty and crime after two race riots destroy its once vibrant business district, but Fred and Lil continue to nurture their three apartment buildings and tenants for the next twenty years in a devastated landscape―even as their own relationship cracks and withers.
After her parents’ deaths, Gartz discovers long-hidden letters, diaries, documents, and photos stashed in the attic of her former home.
Determined to learn what forces shattered her parents’ marriage and undermined her community, she searches through the family archives and immerses herself in books on racial change in American neighborhoods. Told through the lens of Gartz’s discoveries of the personal and political, Redlined delivers a riveting story of a community fractured by racial turmoil, an unraveling and conflicted marriage, a daughter’s fight for sexual independence, and an up-close, intimate view of the racial and social upheavals of the 1960s.
Redlined is now included in the Smithsonian Institution’s libraries at the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
Some Editorial Reviews
“Linda Gartz’s memoir Redlined offers a ‘ringside seat to black/white race relations and the racist mortgage policies that help explain why this intractable social issue remains with us into the 21st century.'”
“A stunning debut memoir . . . . A rich remembrance of a captivating, transformative era in American history.”
―Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“. . . an exceptionally rich and readable memoir of family, change, and coming of age in the tumultuous 1960s.”
―Foreword Clarion Reviews, Five Stars
“Redlined is absolutely riveting from cover to cover, all but impossible to put down.”
―Midwest Book Review, Reviewer’s Choice
“I didn’t just love reading this memoir, I appreciated it. . . . Redlined is a beacon of enlightenment in our current American society. I finished Gartz’s memoir feeling educated and hopeful.”
―Readers’ Favorite, Five Stars
“In this compelling journey into the depths of racism, Linda Gartz peels back the onion of America’s original sin to a new level in a captivating personal story told through the lives of her Chicago family. Gartz probes the invisible web of oppression that affected both whites and blacks. Redlining destroyed the American dream without its victims even knowing it.”
―Bill Kurtis, author of Bill Kurtis On Assignment and The Death Penalty on Trial: Crisis in American Justice, Peabody and Emmy Award-winner, news anchor for CBS Television network, and TV host for A&E
“Many watched from afar as Chicago and other major cities underwent rapid racial change in mid-twentieth century America. Linda Gartz lived it . . . with her sharp eye, excellent writing, and unique perspective, she brings this critical and turbulent period to life.”
―Steve Fiffer, coauthor of Jimmie Lee & James: Two Lives, Two Deaths, and the Movement that Changed America
“Moving and empathetic, Linda Gartz’s memoir illuminates the inner worlds of two generations of white working-class Chicagoans as the daughter of landlords who remained in a struggling black community long after their white neighbors had fled . . . a deeply humane perspective on [how] economic need, racism, and ideals of duty shaped the lives of urban white Americans in the twentieth century.”
―Beryl Satter, Professor, Department of History, Rutgers University, and author of Each Mind a Kingdom: American Women, Sexual Purity, and the New Thought Movement, 1875–1920 and Family Properties: Race, Real Estate, and the Exploitation of Black Urban America
“Gartz’s unflinching family memoir offers both intimacy and insight into personal and historical injustices. She traces her parents’ marriage through joyful and troubled times in their Chicago neighborhood as they confronted rapid racial change in the 1960s. She deftly interweaves a story of family striving, domestic resentments, and individual decency with the seismic cultural shifts of America’s social and sexual revolutions.”
―Amanda I. Seligman, Chair, Department of History, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and author of Block by Block: Neighborhoods and Public Policy on Chicago’s West Side
“Fearless and precise in her rendering of the intimate truths of her family, rigorous in her analysis of the banking and housing industries, Gartz has written a book that is impossible to put down. . . . An extraordinary achievement.”
―Sharon Solwitz, author of Once, in Lourdes
“In this remarkable memoir, Linda Gartz [takes] her readers on a journey that is neither sentimental nor nostalgic. Committed to finding the truth at every turn, she tracks not only her own experiences but also the social and cultural changes that reshaped twentieth-century America. The stories she tells and the insights she gains are marked always by clarity and depth.”
―Fred Shafer, School of Professional Studies, Northwestern University
“In Redlined, Linda Gartz explores the contentious elements that define America: family, self-sacrifice, and opportunity, but also inequality, racism, and revolution. Deftly weaving together a treasure trove of detailed firsthand accounts, she provides an absorbing view into the life of a family unwittingly caught up in both its own domestic struggles and the turbulent social reckonings of the 1960s.”
―Anjali Sachdeva, author of All the Names They Used for God
“Linda Gartz mines a wealth of family letters, diaries, memories, and history to tell a vital American story of immigrant dreams, struggles with love, madness, security, work, self-reliance, and heartache―ultimately intersecting with what has become the essential national topic, the racism that weaves itself through all our personal and shared histories. Beautifully told and a compelling read.”
―Jim Grimsley, author of Winter Birds, Dream Boy, My Drowning, Comfort and Joy, Mr. Universe and Other Plays, Boulevard, Kirith Kirin, Forgiveness, The Ordinary, The Last Green Tree, Jesus is Sending You This Message, and How I Shed My Skin
“With tender and open-eyed concern, Linda Gartz adeptly explores how the human need for recognition and equality is waylaid both by doors slammed against legal access and connection and by the tyrannies of power wielded behind closed doors.”
―Anne Calcagno, Professor, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and author of Love Like a Dog
“Deeply personal yet wide in scope, Gartz’s writing seamlessly blends her parents’ struggles as landlords on Chicago’s West Side with the injustices imposed on African Americans by racist housing policies. Redlined is a vivid and historic account of rapid racial change in the community Gartz and I have both called home.”
―Mary Nelson, founding president of Bethel New Life and faculty at Parliament of the World’s Religions and Asset Based Community Development Institute at DePaul University (Chicago)
“Intimate and honest, Gartz’s memoir exposes the complex motivations that intertwine the lives of a white couple with their black tenants and renders one of the twentieth century’s most troubled eras through the lives of those who lived it.”
―Sharon DeBartolo Carmack, MFA, CG, author of You Can Write Your Family History and Tell it Short: A Guide to Writing Your Family History in Brief
“Without a doubt in my mind, Redlined deserves a whopping 4 out of 4 stars. . . . You will be blown away by this book.”
―Online Book Club
About the Author
Six-time Emmy-honored Linda Gartz is a documentary producer, author, blogger, educator, and archivist. Her documentaries and TV productions have been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, and Investigation Discovery, syndicated nation-wide. Her educational videos include Begin with Love, hosted by Oprah Winfrey and Grandparenting, hosted by Maya Angelou. Gartz’s articles and essays have been published in literary journals, online, and in local and national magazines and newspapers, including The Chicago Tribune. Born in Chicago, she studied at both Northwestern and the University of Munich, and has lived most of her adult life in Evanston, IL. She earned her B.A. and M.A.T. degrees from Northwestern.