Black Residents In Memphis Lose Decades Economic Of Gains

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From the NY Times:

MEMPHIS — For two decades, Tyrone Banks was one of many African-Americans who saw his economic prospects brightening in this Mississippi River city.

A single father, he worked for FedEx and also as a custodian, built a handsome brick home, had a retirement account and put his eldest daughter through college.

Then the Great Recession rolled in like a fog bank. He refinanced his mortgage at a rate that adjusted sharply upward, and afterward he lost one of his jobs. Now Mr. Banks faces bankruptcy and foreclosure.

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“I’m going to tell you the deal, plain-spoken: I’m a black man from the projects and I clean toilets and mop up for a living,” said Mr. Banks, a trim man who looks at least a decade younger than his 50 years. “I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. But my whole life is backfiring.”

Not so long ago, Memphis, a city where a majority of the residents are black, was a symbol of a South where racial history no longer tightly constrained the choices of a rising black working and middle class. Now this city epitomizes something more grim: How rising unemployment and growing foreclosures in the recession have combined to destroy black wealth and income and erase two decades of slow progress.

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