CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- “The lot hereby conveyed shall be used for residential purposes only and shall be owned and occupied by people of the Caucasian race.”
That inflammatory statement is the first rule listed on Myers Park’s deed restrictions. Two years ago, Newschannel 36 spotted the wording on a “sample deed” listed on the Myers Park Neighborhood Association website. The complaints that followed our coverage prompted the NACCP to complain to the Charlotte committee that polices discrimination.
Now, Charlotte Mecklenburg’s Community Relations Committee (CRC) has formally called that website publication “discriminatory” and the NAACP is making demands.
“You have to do more than say, ‘Oops I’m sorry.’ We’re tired of people getting caught doing racist things and then just saying, ‘Oops, I’m sorry,’” NACCP NC president Dr. William Barber said Monday.
That wording is nearly a hundred years ago from a time when rules like that were common in Charlotte neighborhoods. Myers Park’s attorney, Ken Davies, tells Newschannel 36 the provision is illegal, and furthermore, it has not been enforced. However, deed restrictions cannot be easily amended.
It is the publication of that sample deed on the associations website that prompted review from the CRC, based on a complaint from the NAACP. The committee cited additional language on the website that emphasized how seriously Myers Park takes its deed restrictions.
“Prospective purchasers of homes in the Myers Park neighborhood may have seen the MPHA’s website containing the restrictive covenant and been discouraged from looking for a home in Myers Park,” the committee wrote. “The Respondents have engaged in discriminatory practices made unlawful by the City of Charlotte’s Fair Housing Ordinance.”
The MPHA and the NAACP now have 30 days to negotiate a response. If no agreement is reached, the city could file legal action.
The neighborhood association’s current president Pamela May released a statement :
“The restrictions on race were, of course, declared invalid in the 1940's. However, the language remains in the documents recorded as historical relic. MPHA has no authority to change this wording as recorded. The original language is offensive. We did not publish this with the intent to discriminate. We did not publish it with the intent to harm. It is regrettable that these words appeared on our site, particularly without an explanation. To those who read and were offended, we apologize. The Myers Park Homeowners Association has never attempted to discriminate against anyone.
We consider our neighborhood a place of special beauty within Charlotte. That beauty can only be enhanced by diversity. “
Davies explained that the wording has not been changed because it would subject the entire set of complicated and sometimes controversial deed restrictions to review. “It would be a circus,” he said.
NAACP President William Barber says the apology is not enough. The organization has been in negotiations with MPHA since the complaint was first filed in 2007. “We don’t know how many people were turned away. We don’t know how many people were affected,” he said. “It’s kind of like speeding. You can’t just slow down. You’ve got to pay the penalty.”
The NACCP would not name their demands specifically, but Newschannel 36 has learned they could cost at least $50,000. Davies called them “outrageous” Monday. “They have not negotiated in good faith,” he said.
NC NAACP’s Housing Chair Stella Adams cited statistics on residences in Myers Park as proof that segregation has occurred, producing pie charts that showed just a small sliver of minorities living in Myers Park, compared to much larger populations of minorities citywide. “They had whited out the date. They had whited out the street address,” she said, of the sample deed, “Guess what they did not white out? For Causcasians only.”
Dr. Barber said the CRC finding shows that Myers Park had “intent.” Davies called that “a fabrication and a falsehood.” He accused the NAACP of blowing this up for political ends. “We resent the implication. It is unfair and unfounded,” he said.
The NAACP vowed to get the remedies it says it’s due. “We have all reason to believe they are going to fight -- they fought us all the way -- but understand we are going to fight too,” Dr. Barber said.