Just in time for the beginning of property class comes this article from the Washington Post on an estate that LBJ and Lady Bird Johnson purchased in -- do I have this right, 1961 -- with a racially restrictive covenant on it. The Johnsons filed a declaration that the covenants were not enforceable legally or morally. Of course that was true. By 1961 the covenants had been unenforceable for nearly fifteen years. Perhaps this article should have mentioned that, rather than repeating one of the Johnsons' lawyers statements that he could not have purchased a home in the area at the time.
I'm going to see Selma when it opens in Chapel Hill. Though I almost never see movies in the theater I make and exception for ones about slavery (even when they are fiction) and Jim Crow so I need to reserve my though on just how unfair the movie is to Johnson. I'm always sad when historical figures are unfairly maligned and it seems that Selma may be particularly unfair. But I'm not convinced that the restrictive covenant in this case robustly tests Johnson's attitudes towards integration.
Still, all of this reminds me of some work I'm doing on the fight against racially restrictive covenants in Oklahoma City from the late 1920s through and just past Shelley v. Kraemer. While the house the Johnsons purchased was quite expensive, what strikes me as particularly poignant is that much of the fight against integration in Oklahoma City took place over relatively modest housing stock. The illustration, for instance, is the home of one of the plaintiffs in a suit to enforce covenants in northeast Oklahoma City back in the 1930s. I hope to post a bunch more photos from the 1930s and also of the neighborhood today later in the semester when I talk about the work I'm doing on the suits regarding restrictive covenants.