Black Print with a White Carnation: Mildred Brown and the Omaha Star Newspaper, 1938-1989

By Amy Helene Forss | Go to book overview

6
Restricted Housing and ‘Rithmetic

The back of the postcard bore an insidious message: “Ifyou want to stop communism in the USA see that restrictive covenants are enforced!” The mailed memorandum informed Omaha’s Kountze Place residents in 1950 that it was their duty to keep the neighborhood free from a black invasion. Home owners could not afford to stay neutral. “Protective covenants can be enforced, if you will cooperate and contribute.” The postcard campaign in the northeast residential area adjacent to the black neighborhood was the work of an anonymous hatemonger who made sure every Kountze Place resident received an instructional missive. Mildred Brown told her readers she believed the postcard perpetrator was most likely a neurotic crackpot, but members of the black community needed to take the mailing seriously. Its damaging rhetoric could exacerbate neighborhood fears and stereotypes by associating communism with a white person’s right to sell a home to a black buyer. Brown warned her readers that they better grow up and support organizations like the NAACP that fought against this type of racial discrimination. Unfortunately, a majority of home owners in Kountze Place believed the contents of the postcards.1 They affixed restrictive covenants, like the one found in Omaha’s Douglas County Register of Deeds Office, to their deeds of sale: “This property is conveyed upon the express covenant that it shall never be sold or leased or permitted [to] be occupied by a colored person; nor shall it be used for carrying on a liquor business or for any other immoral or illegal use, and the grantees for themselves and their successors take title subject to having agreed to this covenant.”2 The Kountze Place residents fought to protect their all-white neighborhood population, and whether they

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Black Print with a White Carnation: Mildred Brown and the Omaha Star Newspaper, 1938-1989
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations viii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Part 1- Laying the Foundation 19
  • 1- A Family of Fighters 21
  • 2- Involving the Community 43
  • 3- Politics of Respectability 59
  • Part 2- Ensuring Her Success 81
  • 4- Working within Her Space 83
  • 5- Collective Activism and the de Porres Club 101
  • 6- Restricted Housing and ‘Rithmetic 123
  • Part 3- Transferring Ownership to the Community 141
  • 7- Changing Strategies for Changing Times 143
  • 8- The Death of An Icon 165
  • Notes 179
  • Bibliography 211
  • Index 233
  • In the Women in the West Series 242
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