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NY neighborhood gets historical race restrictions off deeds

December 19, 2020 GMT

BRIGHTON, N.Y. (AP) — An effort from a neighborhood group in a western New York town to correct historical discrimination has led to the amending of close to 300 home deeds to remove the original 1929 racial restrictions that barred home sales to buyers who weren’t white.

The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported Friday that the CORD Initiative, which stands for Confronting Our Racist Deeds and was formed earlier this year, had filed for the amendment to be made in the deeds of homes in the Meadowbrook neighborhood of Brighton, New York, near Rochester.

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The deeds were originally written close to a century ago with the line, “No lot or dwelling shall be sold to or occupied by a colored person.”

Those types of restrictive covenants were used regularly around the country in the earlier parts of the 20th century.

While it has been decades since racial covenants have been enforceable, the language still being in place inspired the group’s efforts.

“The reality is that the impact of these deed restrictions is felt for generations,” Johnita Anthony, a member of the group, said.

In order to have the change made, the group needed signatures from 75% of the 288 homeowners in the neighborhood.

On a website the group created to help other communities if they want to make similar efforts, CORD said it met and exceeded that goal through signing events and an education campaign for the community. It also raised funds to cover the fees for the filing.

Brighton Town Supervisor Bill Moehle praised the effort, saying the group “has shown real grassroots leadership in organizing to eliminate racist restrictive covenants from their neighborhood deeds.”