Robert Weaver on Racial Restrictive Covenants

On the Role of Subdivisions in Perpetuating Covenants

"The authors of the most effective racial covenants are the subdividers who on their own initiative or under pressure from sources of finance cover new developments with these restrictive agreements. This is true for many reasons. Subdividers are the first commercial developers of urban land. As such, they transform raw land into building sites, laying out streets, planning land use, and often specifying, through deed restrictions, the use to which sites shall be put....Since, however, all this takes place before the occupant or ultimate owner moves into an area, patterns for residential segregation, effected by deed restrictions, occur without the active participation of the eventual parties to the agreement. Thus, subdividers and developers establish minority exclusion and patterns for its perpetuation without having to go to the expense of persuading purchasers to participate in the arrangement. And since new subdivisions are often occupied by the more prosperous elements in the population, patterns established in them become attractive to others who hope to become prosperous. When and if the latter group succeed in achieving this manifestation of arriving in our society, they, too, have little choice; if they want the sort of house that signifies prosperity, it is usually covered by a racial covenant."

Source: Robert C. Weaver, The Negro Ghetto. New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Company, 1948. 253-254.

This WWW page was created by Wendy Plotkin ( in 1998 and updated on 1 September 2003.