unwelcome in glendale
In 1920, when the population of Glendale totaled 13,536, there were only 22 black residents. In 1927 a large delegation of residents from Eagle Rock and Glendale met to discuss permanently restricting residence property to whites only. This move was brought on in opposition to a black developer attempting to build an apartment complex in Eagle Rock for future black residents. The Eagle Rock Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to the developer expressing their disapproval. "Such a move on the part of your clients would meet with a very universal disapproval by the residents of this community and council district, to say nothing of Glendale, a few blocks away. . . it is fitting that you be informed of the sentiment and that you be asked to settle your clients elsewhere, among their own people."
Racially restricted housing was advertised in Glendale in the 1910s and 1920s, and Glendale was “noted as a model for other communities that wanted to racially restrict housing.” (See Episode 1, All American City.) The restrictions were successful. In the 1930 census Glendale had nearly quintupled in population to 62,000, but still only had 38 African-American residents, all but three of whom were either live-in servants in white households or employees living on or near their employer’s premises.
In 1958 a Glendale couple who sold their home to a black couple reported to police that they had received threatening phone calls (death threats), fires in their trash bins in front of their home, and a rock thrown through their living room window.
In the 1960s race restrictions on properties were still widely practiced, however they would often manifest in more subversive ways than the housing advertisements seen in the 1920s.
Those in favor of discriminatory housing for the aeronautics and defense industries consciously benefited from the remote location of their workplaces in the San Fernando Valley. The regional director of the President's Committee on Government Contracts told officials that companies could achieve a segregated workplace without "intentional discrimination," by moving to areas where Black people could not secure housing. Lockheed Martin research engineer Preston Morris was unable purchase a Valley home for himself and his wife. "Most of my encounters in the Valley," he told federal officials in 1960, "have not been met with success. We are still looking and have yet to find accommodations."
In 1967, the first case of the State Fair Employment Practices Commission equal housing opportunities enforcement was dropped after Mrs. Hazel A. Rolfe, owner of a Glendale duplex, ceased her attempt to evict Richard Larson and his wife Myrtle.
Larson, a white building contractor, was told his rent would increase from $90 to $95 if he married. When he married Myrtle Caton, a Black physician and teacher at USC, he was told the rent would be $150 or he had a month to vacate the premises. He paid the rent but then was told he still had to move. During their legal battles to obtain an injunction against the eviction, Larson and his wife faced a new threat when a six foot cross wrapped in rags soaked in kerosene was left in front of their apartment. A neighbor interrupted the cross-burning.
Despite the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and ‘60s, and a surge of tenant activism in the 1970s, in the 1980s Glendale was still home to housing discrimination.
In 1987, a 45-year old man in Glendale taped a racially derogatory note to the apartment door of a 39-year old black woman. In 1988, a Glendale woman screamed racial obscenities and threatened to call the police at Gregory Miller and his fiancé Charlene Stignich as they attempted to move into their Glendale apartment. Miller called the police himself and two days later the woman was charged with disturbing the peace, a misdemeanor.
In July of 1988, two women participated in "Racism: a Matter of Hate," a documentary exploring the problem of housing discrimination and highlighting Glendale.
One Black woman and one white woman visited two apartment complexes in Glendale with units available to rent. In both cases the Black woman was told the units were not available while the white woman was encouraged to rent. Marcella Brown, the Executive Director of the Fair Housing Congress of Southern California, an organization that brought lawsuits against landlords that discriminate against renters because of race, said she received 12-18 complaints a year related to Glendale in 1988. Glendale's Community Development Department said the city does not employ a fair housing council but instead runs its own fair housing program.
Copyright notice: Any materials under copyright in this exhibit are covered by the Fair Use provision of the Copyright Act. Permission and preferred attribution were requested of all copyright holders.
Agree to Restrict Eagle Rock Property. Eagle Rock Sentinel, Volume XIX, Number 49, 7 April 1927
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Ask Sign-up on Restrictions of Property Use. La Habra Star, Volume XXIX, Number 51, 27 July 1945
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Chew, Amee; Muñoz Flegal, Chione Lucina; Kurwa, Rahim. Policy Link. Facing History, Uprooting Inequality: A Path to Housing Justice in California, 2020.
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