• The Transformation of Black Ypsilanti: Race and Housing in a Small American City
    Lee Azus

Progressive cooperative grocery, 1970, Ypsilanti, Michigan. Photo: Department of Urban Renewal files, City of Ypsilanti, Michigan.

In the years after Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), the African-American population in the small industrial city of Ypsilanti, Michigan, found itself legally restricted to living in "the Southside" neighborhood where its churches, social and institutional spaces had been concentrated. The Transformation of Black Ypsilanti examines federal housing policies and programs—including a World War II‐era war worker housing project, and an urban renewal plan—that reconfigured the cultural and physical landscapes of Ypsilanti's African‐American neighborhood under conditions of segregation. This project analyzes how federally‐financed projects were received and contested by an organized and politicized population. Moreover, The Transformation of Black Ypsilanti interrogates the particularities of Ypsilanti's experience and the broader implications of racialized housing policies in the United States in the twentieth century.

Lee Azus is an architectural historian with an interest in twentieth-century American housing policy and its relation to racialized capitalism. His essay, "Uncanny Home: Considering Race and American Housing Policy in Mike Kelley's 'Mobile Homestead'" considers white flight and the suburbanization of Detroit, and is forthcoming in From Conflict to Inclusion in Housing: Perspectives on the Interaction of Communities, Residents and Activists with the Politics of the Home (UCL Press, 2017). He has presented work at the Amps (Architecture_Media_Politics_Society) Mediated City Conference, the Vernacular Architecture Forum, the Ecojustice and Activism Conference, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit. He holds an MS in architecture from the University of Michigan's Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, as well as an MS in historic preservation from Eastern Michigan University.