Panel Discussion on Saving the Neighborhood: Part III

My comments are both complimentary and complementary. Let’s start with the complimentary. Saving the Neighborhood is a great book. It is a must-read for anybody who studies segregation, particularly in housing. Richard Brooks and Carol Rose have effectively put themselves into the minds of the discriminators, the discriminated-against, the legal profession, and the segregation busters, and have thought through the various ways in which they all reacted to segregation. In the process, the authors document the legal means as well as the informal methods that discriminators used to promote segregation, and how those means and methods changed over time. I was surprised at how difficult it was to set up a foolproof legal form of segregation through covenants, and was disturbed and fascinated by how the discriminators supplemented the covenants with a wide variety of informal arrangements that made the covenants look more forbidding from the outside than they actually were. Those informal arrangements turn out to have been powerful means of maintaining segregation, even as the legality of segregation was challenged and then overthrown. Brooks and Rose do an excellent job of describing the groups that sought to break down segregation. Reformers and housing entrepreneurs often developed uneasy alliances based on quite different motives in working to open up opportunities for mixed-race neighborhoods.