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Making Good NeighborsCivil Rights, Liberalism, and Integration in Postwar Philadelphia$
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Abigail Perkiss

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780801452284

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801452284.001.0001

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“A Home of One’s Own”

“A Home of One’s Own”

The Battle over Residential Space in Twentieth-Century America

(p.10) Chapter 1 “A Home of One’s Own”
Making Good Neighbors

Abigail Perkiss

Cornell University Press

This chapter recounts the 1947 U.S. Supreme Court prohibition against J. D. and Ethel Shelley—a black couple—to own a space in the all-white neighbourhood of Labadie Avenue because of a “covenant” precluding the use of the property by “any person not of the Caucasian race.” The case shows that, throughout the first half of the twentieth century, politicians, policymakers, and businessmen worked to create a system of residential separation predicated on the belief that black infiltration of white space would pollute neighborhoods and depreciate property values. These practices had the effect of markedly restricting African Americans' access to private property and, consequently, constraining their residential mobility.

Keywords:   U.S. Supreme Court, J. D. Shelley, Ethel Shelley, Labadie Avenue, Caucasian race, residential separation, African Americans, private property

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