"There is no right more elemental, nor any liberty more fundamental in
a democracy than freedom to move where and when you please. It is for this
right that the
"These covenants, familiar to Negroes in nearly all large cities, are
binding agreements among white property owners and real estate operators not to
sell, rent, lease or transfer property to Negroes, usually under no
circumstances, but especially for purposes of occupancy. In
"For many years the N.A.A.C.P. has struggled to abolish these unconscionable, yet effective, instruments through the courts, the legislature and through the pressure of mass protest. Today, after much and hard fought litigation in the courts of Illinois, the Chicago branch and a corps of capable attorneys have succeeded in bringing the issue before the supreme court of the United States. There, it is hoped that a clear-cut decision may be rendered on the constitutional question involved (violation of the Fourteenth Amendment) which will render null and void any and all such agreements which are directed against any group because of race, creed or color.
"The medium is the case of Lee vs. Hansberry, et al.. Carl A.
Hansberry, former treasurer of the
"The corps of attorneys are: Irvin C. Mollison, president of the
Illinois State Conference, N.A.A.C.P.; Earl B. Dickerson, president of the Cook
County Bar Association and Alderman of Chicago's Second ward; Loring B. Moore,
assistant attorney general of
"Since the demand so greatly exceeds the supply, rentals for Negroes have steadily jumped upward and today they pay from 25 to 50 per cent higher rent than do whites for comparable residences. This in spite of the fact that Negroes on the whole are in the lowest income group in the city. Unscrupulous landlords have taken supreme advantage of the situation and 'kitchenettes' (one room apartments) are becoming the rule.
"Under conditions such as these it is little wonder that the death rate and the morbidity rate of Negroes is higher than those of whites. Illegitimacy, delinquency and crime find fertile beds for growth. If the restrictive covenants can be lifted a great step will have been made in relieving these dissolute circumstances. Further, a decision based on the constitutional question will affect the practice throughout the country--an important victory indeed." (205)