Did Restrictive Racial Housing Covenants in America Begin in Washington, DC?

I knew that my block of Randolph Street in NE DC at one point had legal, racially exclusive covenants built into the deeds of the houses, stating that the houses could never be purchased or rented by blacks, Jews, or Mexicans. I was glad that such restrictions have been swept away.

However, I didn’t realize that DC was sort of an epicenter of such racial redistributing and oppression of disfavored minorities. This article, which I found on the Ward 5 list-serve, takes the case of nearby Bloomingdale and shows how that nasty social cancer was developed and spread, with the government and white businessmen at all levels fostering it.
Kudos to the African-American folks who fought against it. It is sad that so many white folks agreed with this sort of nasty business for so long and failed to protest it alongside black people.

A quote from that article:

During the first half of the 20th century, the number of areas in which black people could live in D.C. shrank as new whites-only housing, playgrounds, and schools were developed. The growth of the federal government, and corresponding demand for new buildings and infrastructure, added to the problem.

Washington had not always been so spatially segregated. In fact, African American and white families had often lived in close proximity to one another throughout the 19th century, especially within the city’s urban core and in neighborhoods along the Potomac and Anacostia rivers. However, the city grew increasingly divided along racial lines through a series of city planning efforts.[4] D.C. did not legally assign neighborhoods to one racial group or another—a policy introduced in Baltimore in 1911 and copied by more than a dozen cities across the upper South—but nearly the same thing was accomplished by other means.[5]


By the way, my Brookland neighbor Jim Loewen is mentioned in the article: he wrote perhaps the best book in existence showing how “sundown towns” like Greenbelt and Chevy Chase were developed.
From another paper:
In its 1948 decision, Shelley v. Kramer, the U.S. Supreme Court held that racially restrictive covenants could not be enforced, but the practice of inserting such covenants into title documents remained common. Finally, in 1968, the Federal Fair Housing Act made the practice of writing racial covenants into deeds illegal. However, nearly seventy years after Shelley and 60 years after the Fair Housing Act, racially restrictive covenants remain common features of deeds. This may be for several reasons. First, since covenants run with the land, they become part of the land title in perpetuity. Second, the process to remove covenants is expensive and time-consuming. Third, the majority of owners may not be aware that their properties are subject to racially restrictive covenants.
You are probably aware that the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue began his career in real estate by enforcing the racist housing practices of his racist father.

Quotes from MLK – Memes Created by Julian Vasquez Heilig

I am reposting some ‘memes’ (pictures and quotes) of Martin Luther King, Jr that were made by Julian Vasquez Heilig on his blog, Cloaking Inequity.







Spreadsheet for DC scores (poverty, segregation, public vs. charter)

If you want to see the spreadsheet I made and used from the District of Columbia’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education showing the links between poverty, segregation, and test scores in 2013m, you can look at it on Google Drive by employing this URL:





Please let me know if the link doesn’t work.

More on Poverty and Segregation in DC Publicly-Funded Schools

According to the educational DEformers who have seldom (or ever) tried to teach in an inner-city or rural poverty-stricken, segregated school, all one needs to do in order to ‘smash’ the ‘achievement gap’ is to fire all the veteran, unionized teachers and hire new and inexperienced but somehow ‘excellent’ college grads, close the old ‘failing’ schools, and all will be peaches and cream and light and wonderfulness.

In DC, nearly half of all students now attend charter schools.

Many of those schools remain completely segregated both by class and by race, as I have shown, just as many of the regular public schools were (and are).

Well, how do these new charter schools do?

Actually, not very much better. Certainly the millennium has not come.

I present to you three graphs that I made using the stats released by DC’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education. On the x-axis, I added the rate of poverty and the rate of segregation to produce an index that goes from 0% (impossibly un-segregated with 100 or more equally-represented ethnic groups and no kids on free and reduced-price lunch) to 200% (which means 100% black and/or hispanic and 100% eligible for free or reduced-price lunch).

On the y-axis I graphed the average of the ‘pass’ rates in math and reading.

You will see that an enormous number of schools line up on the far right-hand edge of the graph. Those are the high-poverty, highly segregated schools. Only a very small fraction of schools (both regular public and charter) are anything else.

This graph is for ALL publicly-funded schools, both regular and charter:

poverty segregation and average dc-cas proficiency rate - 2013


Notice that the linear correlation between segregation & poverty on the one hand, and average achievement on the other, is fairly strong and negative. R-squared is 0.49, which means that the correlation coefficient R is about 0.7.

Next, let’s look at just the DC public schools:

poverty seg + avge dccas prof - regular dc public schools only


You will notice that the correlation is a bit higher: R-squared is 0.62, which means that R itself is nearly 0.8. Most of the high-poverty and high-segregation schools have proficiency rates between 10% and 55%.

And now let’s look at the same graph for the DC charter schools:

poverty seg + avge dccas prof - charter schools only


To their credit, the charter schools do appear to have a weaker correlation between my poverty&segregation index and test scores. R-squared is about 0.29, which means that R is a bit more than 0.5.

Do the charter schools seem to have some magic bullet, so that all of the schools with segregation & poverty indices of 190% or more are all scoring at the top of the charts? No way. The cluster of schools at the far right-hand end of this graph still score fairly low: between 18% and 65%, instead of between 10% and 55%.

Of course, we don’t exactly know how that happens. A difference that small can easily be obtained by rejecting incomplete applications and pushing out certain students.

You also can see that there are essentially NO charter schools with average proficiency rates over 85%, but there are ten such regular public schools.

If there are any requests to see my spreadsheet, I’ll post it as a Google Doc. Just post a comment. (Sorry, the comments button is really tiny and hard to see, but it’s under this text on your screen.)


Poverty, Segregation, and Test Scores in DC

While looking at the latest released NCLB test scores in Washington, DC, I was struck by the enormous number of students who are stuck in completely segregated schools, on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for civil rights and justice.

100% black student body and 100% of them on free or reduced-price lunches (i.e., poor) is the most obvious group of schools.

Followed by another very large group of schools that are 90-99% black & hispanic and 100% poor.

Very, very few schools have an actual mix of white, hispanic, black, and asian students.

This is true for both the regular public schools in DC and for the publicly-funded but privately-run charter schools.

Out of a  total of 181 DC schools for which I have data, 23 have ‘perfectly’ segregated student bodies — that is, every single kid is black and/or hispanic,  AND every single kid is eligible for free or reduced-price lunches.

Here is the list:

  1. Aiton Elementary
  2. Arts + Technology Public Charter
  3. Beers Elementary
  4. Burrville Elementary
  5. C. W.  Harris Elementary
  6. Center City (Congress Heights campus) Public  Charter
  7. Center City (Shaw campus) Public Charter
  8. Ferebee-Hope Elementary
  9. Garfield Elementary
  10. Howard  Road (MLK campus) Public Charter
  11. Howard Road (main campus) Public Charter
  12. Integrated Design Electronics Academy (IDEA) Public Charter
  13. Johnson Middle
  14. Martin Luther King Elementary
  15. Ludlow-Taylor Elementary
  16. Malcolm X Elementary
  17. Maya Angelou (Evans campus) Public Charter
  18. Meridian Public Charter
  19. Options Public Charter
  20. Randle Highlands Elementary
  21. Septima Clark Public Charter
  22. Simon Elementary
  23. Stanton Elementary

How Far We Have NOT Come

Before the rise of charter schools in Washington, DC, the claim was that there were too many school buildings. A common complaint was that DC Public School system was too thinly spread and chaotic.

By my count as of 2012, we have at least 189 different schools, a good number of them charter schools, of course. Unless I’m completely mistaken, this is MORE separate schools than we had at any time before-hand. (A few more schools are not counted at all…)

Of all of these schools, only a tiny fraction of them have any white kids at all. I count a total of twenthy-seven of them  that have a tested population consisting of more than FIVE percent non-hispanic whites, in a city whose population is about 35% white and about 51% black, according to the 2000 census.

Here is the list of all of those schools with at least a handful of white kids, in alphabetical order, with their stated percentage of non-hispanic white students. To make the distinction clearer for those not highly familiar with DC schools, I wrote the abbreviation “(ch)” after the names of the charter schools.

1              Brent ES               34%

2              Capital City – Lower (ch)        24%

3              D.C. Bilingual (ch)      23%

4              Deal MS               42%

5              E.L. Haynes – Georgia Ave  (ch)          9%

6              Eaton ES               31%

7              Ellington School of the Arts          9%

8              Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom (ch)          7%

9              Hardy MS            9%

10           Hearst ES             19%

11           Hyde-Addison ES             39%

12           Janney ES            68%

13           Key ES   69%

14           Lafayette ES       69%

15           Montessori School @ Logan        40%

16           Murch ES             58%

17           Oyster-Adams Bilingual EC           22%

18           School Without Walls HS               35%

19           Stoddert ES        45%

20           Stuart-Hobson Middle School     13%

21           Tuition Grant-DCPS Non Public  15%

22           Two Rivers – Elementary (ch)                40%

23           Two Rivers – Middle (ch)       14%

24           Washington Latin – Middle (ch)           36%

25           Washington Yu Ying (ch)       21%

26           Watkins ES (Capitol Hill Cluster)       19%

27           Wilson, Woodrow HS     19%

I was going to list all the highly-segregated schools, but I realized even if I defined “segregated” as having more than 85% of the school population as being of one single ethnic/racial group or being poor, that that would be an exceedingly long list! In fact, I count exactly 200 instances where a school is highly segregated by ethnicity or poverty or both! (A school like Drew, which is 98% black and 92% poor, gets counted twice.)

We have 28 public and charter schools where 90% of the students are poor, as measured by being on the Free and Reduced Meals list. Here they are:

1              Aiton ES

2              Amidon-Bowen ES

3              Center City – Brightwood (ch)

4              Center City – Congress Heights (ch)

5              Cesar Chavez – Bruce Prep (ch)

6              Community Academy – Amos III (ch)

7              Community Academy – Butler (ch)

8              Community Academy – Rand (ch)

9              Drew ES

10           Excel Academy (ch)

11           Ferebee-Hope ES

12           Friendship – Blow-Pierce (ch)

13           Friendship – Southeast Academy (ch)

14           Hendley ES

15           Howard Road Academy – Main (ch)

16           Imagine Southeast (ch)

17           Kenilworth ES

18           King, M.L ES

19           Kramer MS

20           Malcolm X ES

21           Mary McLeod Bethune – Slowe_Brookland (ch)

22           Maya Angelou – Middle (ch)

23           Moten ES at Wilkinson

24           Patterson ES

25           Savoy ES

26           Stanton ES

27           Tree of Life Community (ch)

28           Tubman ES


As my title laments, how far we have NOT come in reaching the dream of which Dr. King spoke.

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