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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

State Fair Housing Legislation

Christian Friends for Racial Equality letter
Christian Friends for Racial Equality letter

The national civil rights movement, along with events such as the Jones/O'Meara case, inspired fair housing activists in Seattle. Some small voluntary efforts to integrate neighborhoods were in place by the end of the 1950s. The Greater Seattle Housing Council was formed in 1956 to encourage dialogue between proponents of open housing and the real estate industry. Other groups, such as the Christian Friends for Racial Equality, urged the Seattle City Council to pass an ordinance prohibiting racial discrimination in any type of housing. The Central Brokers' Association was formed in 1961 to find housing for minority group families in many parts of Seattle.

The State's Omnibus Civil Rights Act of 1957 was a narrowly defined attempt to end discrimination in housing, focusing only on purchases secured with government loans. Attempts at the state level to pass broad anti-discrimination in housing laws were vigorously opposed in the late 1950s and early 1960s by apartment building operators and real estate representatives. Those special interest groups charged that fair housing laws "would infringe on constitutional property rights, were dictatorial, confiscatory and would lead to evasion and disrespect for the law" (Seattle Times, 1961).

Among those advocating for the anti-discrimination housing bills introduced in 1961 at the State level was Joe Jones, a University of Washington football player. The Seattle Times reported that he, "after returning from the Rose Bowl game, was turned away at six apartment houses because he was a negro. 'These bills are necessary,' said Jones, a 22-year-old senior. I've experienced discrimination.'" University of Washington professor Giovanni Costigan, also testified at the state hearings, advocating for fair housing legislation with the statement that "there is only one race, the human race."

The first state-level fair housing laws were enacted in 1959 by Colorado, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Oregon.

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