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Public TV film explores redlining in Dayton and Springfield

Dayton HOLC map
National Archives
A map of Dayton drawn up by the federal government's Home Owners Loan Corporation showing "risky" neighborhoods as determined largely by the neighborhood's racial demographics.

A new documentary examines the legacy of "redlining" — denying federally backed mortgages and home ownership programs mostly in Black neighborhoods — in Dayton and Springfield premieres 9 p.m. Thursday Feb. 24 on Dayton's WPTD-TV, Cincinnati's WCET-TV and the PBS Video App.

Redlining: Mapping Inequality in Dayton & Springfield was produced by Public Media Connect, the regional partnership which operates CET (WCET-TV, Channel 48) and Dayton's ThinkTV (WPTD-TV, Channel 16).

Producer Richard Wonderling and assistant producer Selena Burks-Rentschler discussed the program on Cincinnati Edition Tuesday with host Lucy May. Here's a link to the audio.

Redlining: Mapping Inequality used maps drawn up by the federal government's Home Owners Loan Corporation showing "risky" neighborhoods as determined largely by the neighborhood's racial demographics.

Here's the stations' news release:

New CET & ThinkTV Documentary Explores the Impact of Redlining on Dayton, Springfield

DAYTON, OH - CET and ThinkTV – Cincinnati and Dayton’s PBS stations – are pleased to announce the premiere of their new documentary, Redlining: Mapping Inequality in Dayton & Springfield. The one-hour film will premiere Thursday, February 24, at 9 p.m. on CET, ThinkTV16, the PBS Video App and YouTube.

Redlining: Mapping Inequality in Dayton & Springfield tells the national and local story of redlining, a practice which embedded racial segregation and inequality into the development of American cities and suburbs. Redlining maps, introduced in the 1930’s, delineated risk areas for federally backed mortgages and home-ownership programs. Risk was determined almost entirely by race. Neighborhoods where no loans would be made were outlined in red, or literally "redlined."

"We wanted to tell this story because it goes to the heart of so many persistent problems in our region. When you look at disparities in wealth, mobility, education, health outcomes and even life expectancy, you’re looking at the legacy of redlining. We need to understand this history if we are to move forward and find remedies. We just feel fortunate that in telling this story we have been able to draw upon the expertise and life experiences of so many in our community," CET and ThinkTV Chief Education Officer Gloria Skurski said.

The documentary is being produced by Emmy Award-Winning Producer Richard Wonderling with Associate Producer Selena Burks-Rentschler. The film explores the stories of local families who were impacted by redlining, and the lasting effects of federal housing policies on our region. It also makes some surprising discoveries about the roots of redlining that trace back to our region, and some larger-than-life personalities who have been all but forgotten.

"Knowledge is power. It's essential to unpack the legacy redlining has had on the Miami Valley region because what happened here has happened in every major city across America. This documentary lays bare the government's role in mapping our segregated cities and suburbs, which left many people of color, specifically Black Americans, with little to no options on ways to access the American Dream," Burks-Rentschler said.

In addition to the film, CET and ThinkTV are assembling resources to help build community awareness, including suggested reading, a discussion guide, PBS LearningMedia assets for classrooms and more. The film will continue to be available to stream on the PBS Video App and YouTube following the premiere.

"This documentary gives voice to members of our community who have been impacted the most. As a local PBS station, we are thankful for the opportunity to tell this challenging story, and hope it contributes to conversation about our region’s future," CET & ThinkTV President and CEO Kitty Lensman said.