Race and Housing in the 1940s
Chapter one introduces the litigants in the covenant cases against the backdrop of the housing crisis that seized the nation during the 1940s. A widespread shortage of decent homes compounded the tensions wrought by mass migration and an intensifying rights-conscious debate over access to homeownership. This chapter argues that the shortage of decent shelter forced the housing issue to the forefront of African Americans’ civil rights concerns and that restrictive covenants stood at the center of the ensuing fight. Exploring the processes of covenant breaking and enforcement, the chapter also illustrates the impact that racial restrictions had in the lives of black home-seekers and what they meant to both black and white communities.
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