Chicago Defender

Saturday, November 16, 1940

"Chicagoans Voice Views on U.S. Decree"

"That Action Will Benefit Race is Consensus of Those Polled"


Page 6

Prominent Chicago citizens, realtors, lawyers and other business and professional people had various reactions to the decision of the United States Supreme court in the Hansberry v. Lee case handed down Tuesday, November 12.

Following are a few of the comments:

William Y. Browne, Vice Pres. Riley and Browne, Inc., Realtors

Regarding the recent decisions of the United States Supreme court relative to restrictive covenant in the Washington Park Subdivision, we believe that this decision will at last open the way for members of our race to occupy this property without fear of restraining injunctions being issued against them.

Since it was definitely proved that only 54 per cent of the 95 per cent required actually signed the covenant, we believe that the majority of the property owners will not feel bound by it.

We also believe that the decision will have a very definite bearing upon the possibility of securing mortgages in this district, which heretofore have been denied purchasers. We further believe that the Chicago Title and Trust company will issue guaranty policies on properties that were not covered in the restrictive covenant in this area where heretofore they have refused to issue any guaranty policies in the district.

This decision will have a moral effect upon the majority of the property owners now in said district and it is hardly likely that any further suits will be filed against prospective purchasers.

This decision is a definite blow to the Property Owners Association fighting our Race in the Washington Park Subdivision.

Tracy W. Champion, Realtor

I heartily agree with the unanimous decision of the United States Supreme Court, reversing the Lee vs. Hansberry case. I always thought it very unfair for the property owners in the Washington Park Subdivision to be bound by a court case to which they were not a party. In all probability the restrictive agreement will now die a natural death. The colored people are over-crowded and must have room for expansion, and the Washington Park Subdivision is the most logical place for them to go.

A. Lincoln Wisler, Businessman

It is dicicult for the average layman to interpret the ruling. However it seems to me that the decision is a technical one and is not the decision that was obviously expected. The case must be continued until a final conclusive decision is rendered.

Arthur L. Jackson, Office Mgr. Black Realty Company

In my opinion the recent United States Supreme Court decision on restrictive covenants as it applied to the Washington Park Subdivision was based entirely on a very technical legal question and will in no way solve the problems of restrictive covenants.

The restrictive covenants that we have had to deal with in the past twenty years are simply agreements or contracts between individuals or groups of individuals agreeing to sell or not to sell, to any other group or individual. Inasmuch as Negroes are granted the same rights as other groups to enter into restrictive covenants there is no violation of the Constitution of the United States involved.

However, I do believe that the opinion handed down by the Supreme Court will tend to break down the opposition that we have been faced with in this particular neighborhood and will enable us to work out the problem to a better advantage.

Robert R. Taylor, Member Chicago Housing Authority

The refusal of the United States Supreme court to uphold the decision of the Illinois Supreme court in the Hansberry case on Restrictive Covenants represents a partial victory for the Negro in his fight for better housing. According to the press report, the issue involved was whether or not the requisite number of property owners signed a covenant barring Negroes from living in the area bounded by Sixteenth and Sixty-third streets, Cottage Grove and South Park avenues. If it can be shown that the requisite number of property owners did not sign a covenant it seems reasonable to believe taht teh courts will hold the covenant invalid, and the property in this area will then be readily available to help meet the growing housing demands for increased housing on the part of the Negro community.

The defendants and others who have led in this fight deserve public credit for this hard won success. The broad and fundamental issue involved in restrictive covenants is still undecided, that is whetehr or not it is against public policy and, therefore, unconstitutional to restrict the usse and ownership of real estate to an American citizen by reason of race, color, or religion. Until this issue is squarely met Negroes will continue to suffer tragic economic and social disadvantages as American citizens because of their inability to rent or purchase adequate housing facilities at normal competitive prices.

A. L. Foster, Executive Secretary, Urban League

The recent decision handed down by the United States Supreme court is a great victory and the attorneys for the appellants deserve a great deal of credit and praise.

We should keep in mind, however, that the victory was not complete in relation to the whole question of residential segregation as it does not (according to my understanding) make this vicious system illegal (in other words, residential segregation has not been abolished and we must continue our fight with renewed vigor and not stop until the victory is complete.

We should be encouraged to write all of our forces and wage a relentless fight for all of the rights and privileges of American citizenship. If we fail to do so now, then we are not worthy of that citizenship

Jim-crowism in all of its forms should go. The separate school systems, separate railroad accommodations, the segregation of men in the armed forces, the disfranchisement of Negroes in Southern states, refusal of services in places--all of these must go or we have no democracy.

Every single case of segregation and discrimination should be challenged and if necessary, taken to the Supreme Court so that the nation and the world will know that we are determined to have our rights and are willing to fight and even die for them.

Leland M. Austin, Secy-Treas., Mid-City Management Corporation

We wish to congratulate the attorneys and our South side papers for the results they have obtained in their efforts to have the United States Supreme court nullify the decision of the lower courts with respect to the unfair provisions of the zoning restrictions.

We trust that this decision will result in the abatement of the unfair racial restrictions, which in our opinion, are detrimental to the best interests of the citizens of Chicago's South side. Our organization has pioneered in the development of better living conditions for the citizens of Chicago's South side. We hope that the way can now be cleared so that it will now be possible for our organization, together with other organizations, to offer buildings in the Washington Sub-Division for occupancy to the colored people of Chicago, in their quest for better living conditions.

A. M. Burroughs, Attorney

In the Hansberry case the U.S. Supreme court decided that racial justice was more important in our democracy than public opinion.

The decision of the Supreme Court of Illinois was based upon public opinion; that of the United States Supreme Court was founded upon the principle of justice to all races.

The opinion of the U.S. Supreme court is another step in the liberal view taken by that court toward all injustice to citizens since the reorganization of the court by our President. The views of the Supreme court reflect those of the Chief Executive expressed in his public statements regarding the necessity of change from hidebound theories created during the "horse and buggy" days.

Ulysses S. Keys, Attorney

The decision in the Hansberry case was a victory for the colored people of Chicago.

It removed the 'Hindenburg Line' of restrictive covenants that keeps Negroes out of the area bounded by Sixtieth and Sixty-third streets, South Parkway and Cottage Grove avenue. It does promise a breath spell to those of us who have been cramped up and strait-jacketed into an area calculated to accommodate half the number living therein.

The decision does not...clear up entirely the general point of restrictive agreements designed to keep Negroes out of a given area. It did not concern itself with the sociological problem involved in such action that make greedy landlords and narrow-minded whites practice a course that is foreign to a true democratic process. Suffice it to say the moral effect of this decision may stay the band of landowners from indulging in the creation of new restrictive areas and may discourage action to carry out the provisions of those already in existence,

The United States Supreme court was entirely fair and liberal when it consented to review the Hansberry case despite the refusal of our Illinois Supreme court to review it.

Dr. M. O. Bousfield, Member Chicago Board of Education

This decision and ultimate direction of the Ida B. Wells Housing project after another long fight marked the only two advances in housing for Negroes in Chicago in almost 20 years.

The next fight must be to outlaw Restrictive Covenants based on Race. This fight will have to be taken to the Supreme Court, also.

Richard E. Westbrooks Attorney

I have carefully considered the opinion and believe that every contention of the attorneys for Mr. Hansberry was fully sustained. This is a landmark in legal jurisprudence.

The criticism of the Illinois Supreme and Appellate Courts contained in the opinion furnish food for thought. Mr. Justice Stone, who delivered the unanimous opinion of the court, pointed out the fact that the courts of Illinois had decided that the so-called restrictive covenant, involved in this case, was invalid in that the required number of signatures had not been obtained.

He further pointed out that contrary to this factual, each of the Illinois courts had rendered a decision which was not based upon reason, facts nor justice. It further appears from the opinion that the Illinois courts had disregarded the plain principle of law and equity in holding that the earlier cases were binding on persons who were not parties thereto, were by privity or succession and taht the holding by the Illinois courts denied Mr. Hasnberry due process of law.

This case is not decided on a racial basis but upon well known principles of law applicable alike to all American citizens. Mr. Justice Shaw of the Illinois Supreme court who rendered a dissenting opinion and upheld the well known principles of law, is entitled to commendation for his fair, impartial and courageous stand, as evidenced in the dissenting opinion.

The attorneys who prepared and prosecuted this case are also entitled to much credit for the thorough manner of preparation and presentation of the intricate questions of law involved.

Arthur W. Sewell, Sec'y-Treas. Sewell and Sons, realtors

In response to our telephone conversation this afternoon, I have the following to say concerning the recent Supreme Court ruling in the Hansberry case.

In my opinion, the decision of the United States Supreme court in the Hansberry case, while not as positive as it might have been, has been a definite step toward alleviating some of the distressful housing conditions existing among members of our race.

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