Malvern Hills Restrictions
Racial covenants were tools used by real estate developers in the 19th and 20th century to prevent people of color from buying or occupying property. Often just a few lines of text, these covenants were inserted into deeds in many Asheville neighborhoods and in deeds all across the country. These real estate contracts were powerful tools for segregating people by race.
Asheville was not always segregated. Covenants helped remake the racial landscape of the city. As racially-restrictive deeds spread, African Americans were pushed into small and increasingly secluded neighborhoods.
The Supreme Court made covenants unenforceable in 1948. 15 years later, when Malvern Hills decided to extend the neighborhoods covenants we, seemingly begrudgingly, stated that we could no longer bar African-Americans “by virtue of decisions of the Supreme Court.” A few years later Congress banned these racial restrictions as part of the Fair Housing Act of 1968.
By the time that covenants were abolished, the damage was done. And it wasn't enough simply to ban this kind of discrimination. We needed, as a nation, to address the harm that it did. We needed to acknowledge how racism was embedded in structures and institutions. But we didn't. So we are still living with the legacies of these discriminatory deeds today in the United States.
Today in Asheville, we continue to see the racial disparity grow. We recently learned that the largest achievement gap between white and black students in the State of North Carolina can now be found in Asheville. I think it is important for our neighborhood to recognize the role we have played in creating the disparities that persist today.
This is the suggested text to be put on file in the Register of Deeds office: "We, the Malvern Hills Neighborhood Association, revoke the racially restrictive language recorded by Malvern Hills, Inc. in the creation of our neighborhood in 1925. We recognize that African-Americans were specifically barred from owning land in Malvern Hills from the first deed that was purchased in 1925 until 1948, when the United States Supreme Court struck down the ability for neighborhoods to use this method of segregation. We hereby state in our capacity as the Malvern Hills Neighborhood Association that we are an all-inclusive neighborhood, who welcome people of all races, religions, genders, sexual orientations and marital statuses. We put this notice in the public record to publicly acknowledge our past transgressions and with the hope of doing right for present and future generations."
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Do you support updating the information on file stating that "we revoke the racially restrictive language recorded by Malvern Hills, Inc." and "that we are an all-inclusive neighborhood, who welcomes people of all races..."
Yes, update the language.
Do you have further thoughts for the board on this topic or other neighborhood matters?
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