Lesson Plan

Whites-Only Suburbs: How the New Deal Shut Out Black Homebuyers


This 10-minute video examines how race-based federal lending rules from New Deal programs in the 1930s kept Black families locked out of suburban neighborhoods, a policy that continues to slow their economic mobility.

Prior to this lesson, students would have already covered the causes of the Civil War rooted in the South’s dependence on slavery, the failure of the U.S. government to fully support the integration of newly freed Black people as citizens and the establishment of racial segregation laws at state levels after the Plessy v. Ferguson U.S. Supreme Court decision supported the legal doctrine of “separate but equal.” Additionally, the teacher might have already covered the topics of the early 1900s, including America’s entry into World War II and the impact of the Great Depression on all of American society.


Students will:

  • Be able to identify the forms of racial discrimination outside the Southern United States – including housing segregation during the Great Depression and inequitable implementation of the G.I. Bill following World War II – to understand the societal problems the civil rights movements of the 1950s and 1960s were trying to overcome.
  • U.S. History
  • Social Studies
  • AP Human Geography
  • Domestic Policies
  • Race in America
  • World War II
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  • Civics and Government
  • U.S. History
For Teachers

Essential Questions

How were Black people affected by racial discrimination outside the South prior to the Black Civil Rights Movement?

Additional Resources

Transcript for "Whites-Only Suburbs: How the New Deal Shut Out Black Homebuyers"Retro Report 
San Jose HOLC "Redlining" MapThe Digital Scholarship Lab 
How a New Deal Housing Program Enforced SegregationHistory.com 
How the GI Bill's Promise Was Denied to a Million Black WWII VeteransHistory.com 
See, Think, WonderFacing History 
Structured and Deliberative DiscourseUC Berkeley 
AP Historical Thinking SkillsAnderson School District One 
Argumentative Writing and Using EvidenceSan José State University Writing Center 

Analyze historical, contemporary, and emerging means of changing societies, promoting the common good, and protecting rights.

Evaluate citizens’ and institutions’ effectiveness in addressing social and political problems at the local, state, tribal, national, and/or international level.

Evaluate social and political systems in different contexts, times, and places, that promote civic virtues and enact democratic principles.

Evaluate how historical events and developments were shaped by unique circumstances of time and place as well as broader historical contexts.

Integrate evidence from multiple relevant historical sources and interpretations into a reasoned argument about the past.

Analyze change and continuity in historical eras.

Explain how the Great Depression and the New Deal impacted American political, social, and economic life over time.

  • KC-7.1.III.A: Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal attempted to end the Great Depression by using government power to provide relief to the poor, stimulate recovery, and reform the American economy.
  • KC-7.1.III.C: Although the New Deal did not end the Depression, it left a legacy of reforms and regulatory agencies and fostered a long-term political realignment in which many ethnic groups, African Americans, and working class communities identified with the Democratic Party.

Explain the causes and effects of the victory of the United States and its allies over the Axis powers.

KC-7.3.III.C.ii: Military service provided opportunities for women and minorities to improve their socioeconomic positions for the war’s duration, while also leading to debates over racial segregation.

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Questions? Tips? Concerns? Reach out to our Director of Education, David Olson: dolson@retroreport.com