Sunday, November 11, 2007
From The Los Angeles Times…
One family’s fight against racial covenants
When the Dryes moved into Country Club Park, neighbors sued to enforce restrictions on nonwhite ownership. The courts sided with the couple.
By Cecilia Rasmussen, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
In 1947, Frank Louis Drye, a highly decorated veteran of two world wars, brought his family from Alabama and bought a house in a well-to-do Los Angeles neighborhood. The purchase soon thrust the Dryes into the ranks of a growing group of African Americans battling then-common racial housing covenants.
After weeks of searching, Drye and his wife, Artoria, found what one of their daughters recently described as their “dream house” -- a five-bedroom, three-bath Mediterranean with an orange tree in the backyard. But the home on Arlington Avenue in the Country Club Park neighborhood west of downtown carried a deed restriction forbidding its sale to nonwhites.
In Los Angeles, as well as throughout much of the rest of the nation, many whites tried to keep neighborhoods from integrating by writing such deeds. The restrictions, or covenants, were considered permanent and applicable to all future owners and sellers.
In California, the practice became increasingly common during and after World War II, when large numbers of blacks left the South and moved to the state in search of good jobs and better lives.
Until the U.S. Supreme Court struck down racial covenants in 1948, blacks and other minorities who challenged the restrictions often faced hostile neighbors and nasty court fights.
It is unclear whether either the Dryes or the previous homeowner, who was white, knew about the deed restriction -- but it didn’t take long for the fact to surface.
Within two months of the Dryes’ moving into the house, nine white neighbors sued them and two other black families who had recently bought homes in the neighborhood.
[Click on the essay title above to read the full story.]