Layered Social Injustice

The Dislodgement of Jewish Communities in Mattapan, Dorchester, and Roxbury During the 1960s

  • Wenlin Wu Boston College
Keywords: white flight, layered social injustice, HOLC maps, Boston Banks Urban Renewal Group, blockbusting, anti-Semitism, Urban history


This article examines the role of housing discrimination in dislodging certain Boston Jewish communities during the 1960s, complicating conventional narratives of “white flight” by highlighting the impact of anti-Semitic housing policies on the migration of Jewish community members. Over the course of two years, the Boston, Massachusetts neighborhoods of Mattapan, Roxbury, and Dorchester experienced drastic demographic change, transitioning from predominantly Jewish to predominantly Black areas. While traditional depictions of white flight focus on racist ideologies and fears of diversification as impetuses for the large-scale migration of white residents, this article suggests that structural forms of anti-Semitism including housing discrimination, unsupportive federal policies, realtor profiteering, and physical violence against Jewish communities also played a role in the migration of Jewish residents from these neighborhoods.