Odious Whites Only Land Deed Printed in Mass. Newspaper

June 4, 2010

(ChattahBox)—-The ugly specter of racially restrictive covenants, have once again come to light in the 21st century. Once a common fixture in land deeds, to prevent non-whites from purchasing homes in white neighborhoods, a recent Massachusetts newspaper ad revealed the racist restrictions still exist in the language of old property deeds.

A Massachusetts woman was shocked to read an ad in the New Bedford Standard-Times for the sale of a home in the town of Fairhaven, in which the odious restrictive racial covenant was copied verbatim, limiting buyers to those belonging to the “Caucasian race.”

The ad read: “The said land shall not be sold, leased or rented to any person other than of the Caucasian race or to any entity of which any person other than that of said race shall be a member, stockholder, officer or director.”

The racist covenant was placed on the original deed in 1946.

The Massachusetts woman, Mandi Costa, filed a discrimination lawsuit. And the paper issued an apology for its “gross oversight,” while promising to remove the language of racially restrictive deeds from future notices.

The Newton, Mass. law firm responsible for placing the advertisement, defended the inclusion of the language of the restrictive covenant, saying it was placed on the deed by the original owner. But the firm noted it didn’t agree with the language and pointed out that it was not legally enforceable. Still, the ugly language is painful, especially when non-white homeowners realize their old deeds contain the offending covenants.

Although states were prohibited from enforcing restrictive racial covenants, by the 1948 landmark Supreme Court decision, Shelley v. Kraemer, the restrictions were enforced privately for two-decades, until the Housing Rights Act was passed by Congress in 1968. But the racist covenants still lurk in old deeds and homeowners associations, as a distateful reminder of the ugly Jim Crow era.

The Civil Rights and Labor History Project in Seattle, Washington, surveyed the deeds of thousands of homeowners to uncover the odious language of racial restrictive covenants, discriminating against blacks, Jews, Hispanics and Asians.

Some of the racist covenants uncovered on present-day Seattle deeds are shocking:

“That no part of said premises shall ever be used or occupied by or sold conveyed, leased, rented, or given to negroes or any person or persons of negro blood.”

“No person of any race other than the white race shall use or occupy any building or any lot, except this covenant shall not prevent occupancy by domestic servants of a different race domiciled with an owner or tenant.”

“The lot, nor any part thereof, shall not be sold to any person either of whole or part blood, of the Mongolian, Malay, or Ethiopian races, nor shall the same nor any part thereof be rented to persons of such races.”

“No part of said property hereby conveyed shall ever be used or occupied by any Hebrew or by any person of the Ethiopian, Malay or any Asiatic Race…excepting only employees in the domestic service on the premises of persons qualified hereunder as occupants and users and residing on the premises.”

As a result of the Seattle racial restrictive covenant project, the state governor signed a bill into law, making it easer for homeowners to rid their deeds of the racist clauses.


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