1948 Housing Covenants

Housing segregation in metro Detroit is no accident. As Black individuals and families moved into the region to pursue opportunities in the automotive industry, white communities became concerned. Federal redlining, racist mortgage lending practices, and white supremacist ideologies colluded to convince individuals and neighborhood associations to enact racial housing covenants. These covenants were written into the deeds of individual properties, and into neighborhood associations' agreements.

Excerpt from Dearborn property deed, 1937. Indicates that the dwelling may not be sold to "colored people".

Excerpt from Township of Fordson (later incorporated into the city of Dearborn) Ternes subdivision property description from 1924. Indicates that no property in the subdivision can be sold to anyone who is not "of the Caucasian or white race".

In the 1940s, a group sprang up called the Dearborn Property Protective Association. Headed by Homer Beadle (the president of Fordson School Board and a member of Dearborn's City Council). This group's expressed purpose was to "place occupancy restrictions limiting occupancy to members f the caucasian race in the title of all property now unrestricted in the City of Dearborn. This group operated until 1948 Shelley v. Kraemer when the ruled that such covenants were not legal.

If you own a home in Dearborn built before 1948, check the property abstract on your deed. You may be surprised to find this language is still there. Racism is not a problem that once existed far away. Racial housing covenants in Dearborn enforced regional segregation that is still upheld by racist policies today. Despite our proximity to majority Black Detroit, Dearborn's population is less than 4% Black today. It's time to replace Dearborn's racist policies with antiracist ones.