Thesis

Civil rights activists and california politicians challenge housing discrimnation in Sacramento, 1950-1966

Thesis (M.A., History)--California State University, Sacramento, 2016.

In the 1950s, real estate agents and builders steered Sacramento residents of color to
 the West End, an area that used to occupy much of downtown Sacramento. However, as
 federal dollars became available for urban renewal programs, Sacramento officials
 elected to tear down the West End, sending thousands of West Enders into the greater
 Sacramento area. Many of these individuals were again steered into areas without racial
 covenants, such as Del Paso Heights, Oak Park, and various areas within South
 Sacramento. Some of these individuals held professional careers and could comfortably
 afford to live in areas of their choice. Not only this, many refused to allow anyone to
 dictate to them where they were to reside; and, thus attempted to purchase newer homes,
 which in many cases were in Sacramento suburbs, traditionally off limits to people of
 color. These individuals sometimes resorted to having white friends purchase homes for
 them in these areas, later transferring the deed into their own name. Others attempted to
 purchase homes in exclusively white areas and when experiencing racial discrimination,
 challenged home owners, builders, and real estate agents in court. By the late 1950s, the
 population of color in California had risen dramatically; however, the practice of placing people of color in segregated areas had created a situation of congestion. Sensing the
 need for action, local civil rights groups and California politicians aided people of color
 by both equipping them with fair housing legislation and providing legal aid to challenge
 institutional discrimination in housing in court. In 1959, California lawmakers passed two
 key civil rights laws (Hawkins Act and Unruh Act) that outlawed discrimination in public
 housing and in business dealings. By 1963, the Rumford Fair Housing Act was passed,
 which prohibited housing discrimination by private parties. Civil rights groups in
 Sacramento aided individuals in court as they used these newly created laws to secure the
 housing of their choice. This thesis examines the process of getting key housing
 legislation passed, explores the development and efforts of local civil rights groups, and
 discusses noteworthy individuals who worked tirelessly to create a level housing market
 in Sacramento. The sources that are used in writing this thesis include: newspaper
 articles, scholarly secondary literature, government committee minutes, magazine
 articles, primary sources from local organizations, speeches, documentaries, memoirs,
 digital media, maps, and photographs. The conclusion reached was that the collective
 efforts of California politicians, local organizations, and individual citizens effectively
 challenged housing discrimination in Sacramento, creating a more equitable housing
 market, while at the same time solving immediate housing needs.

In the 1950s, real estate agents and builders steered Sacramento residents of color to the West End, an area that used to occupy much of downtown Sacramento. However, as federal dollars became available for urban renewal programs, Sacramento officials elected to tear down the West End, sending thousands of West Enders into the greater Sacramento area. Many of these individuals were again steered into areas without racial covenants, such as Del Paso Heights, Oak Park, and various areas within South Sacramento. Some of these individuals held professional careers and could comfortably afford to live in areas of their choice. Not only this, many refused to allow anyone to dictate to them where they were to reside; and, thus attempted to purchase newer homes, which in many cases were in Sacramento suburbs, traditionally off limits to people of color. These individuals sometimes resorted to having white friends purchase homes for them in these areas, later transferring the deed into their own name. Others attempted to purchase homes in exclusively white areas and when experiencing racial discrimination, challenged home owners, builders, and real estate agents in court. By the late 1950s, the population of color in California had risen dramatically; however, the practice of placing people of color in segregated areas had created a situation of congestion. Sensing the need for action, local civil rights groups and California politicians aided people of color by both equipping them with fair housing legislation and providing legal aid to challenge institutional discrimination in housing in court. In 1959, California lawmakers passed two key civil rights laws (Hawkins Act and Unruh Act) that outlawed discrimination in public housing and in business dealings. By 1963, the Rumford Fair Housing Act was passed, which prohibited housing discrimination by private parties. Civil rights groups in Sacramento aided individuals in court as they used these newly created laws to secure the housing of their choice. This thesis examines the process of getting key housing legislation passed, explores the development and efforts of local civil rights groups, and discusses noteworthy individuals who worked tirelessly to create a level housing market in Sacramento. The sources that are used in writing this thesis include: newspaper articles, scholarly secondary literature, government committee minutes, magazine articles, primary sources from local organizations, speeches, documentaries, memoirs, digital media, maps, and photographs. The conclusion reached was that the collective efforts of California politicians, local organizations, and individual citizens effectively challenged housing discrimination in Sacramento, creating a more equitable housing market, while at the same time solving immediate housing needs.

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