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The Seattle Open Housing Campaign, 1959-1968 - Home
Introduction
Restrictive Covenants
O'Meara v. Washington State Board Against Discrimination
State Fair Housing Legislation
The NAACP Request
The Citizens' Advisory Committee on Minority Housing
Protest: Sit-in and Freedom March, 1963
"An Open Hearing for Closed Minds"
The People Vote
Years of Ferment: 1964-1967
Open Housing, 1968
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The Seattle Open Housing Campaign, 1959-1968

Restrictive Covenants

One method employed to shut out black families from white neighborhoods was enforcement of restrictive covenants. This and other acts of discrimination, such as realtors unofficially agreeing not to show houses in white neighborhoods to people of color, largely confined black residents to Seattle's Central Area. Although the African American community increased from 1% to 4.8% of Seattle's population between 1940 and 1960, by 1960 the Central District was home to 78% of the City's black population. In 1957, Garfield became the first high school in Seattle with more than a 50% nonwhite student body.

Restrictive covenants embedded in real estate deeds formed one effective method of keeping non-whites out of all-white neighborhoods. One such covenant in Windermere dating from 1929 stated:

3. No chickens or other fowl, or animals, except individual household pets, shall at any time be kept or maintained upon said property.
4. No person or persons of Asiatic, African or Negro blood, lineage or extraction, shall be permitted to occupy a portion of said property, or any building thereon; except domestic servant or servants may be actually and in good faith employed by white occupants of such premises.

Citation: Deeds, Vol. 1450, page 348, April 1, 1929. King County Recorder's Office. Courtesy Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project.


CFRE Letter 1949
 
Civic Unity
 
Mitchell responds
 

In 1949, a community group, the Christian Friends for Racial Equality, wrote to the City Council, commending them for not accepting a plat in Windermere with racial restrictions.

The Civic Unity Committee wrote to City Council on June 12, 1953, requesting the City not to accept plats with restrictive covenants.

Councilman Mitchell responded, agreeing with the policy request and stating that "the entire council is in agreement on this policy."

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