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Task Force Targets Racist Real Estate Covenants

Tom Flanigan

It appears the task of striking 85-year old "whites only" language from Florida's real estate documents is far easier said than done. A Leon county task force trying to make that change has now decided on a path forward.

The 1934 federal wording forbids people of color from owning homes in Tallahassee's Betton Hills neighborhood. Although courts have ruled that language moot, the statement likely appears in many thousands of residential real estate papers all over Florida. Tallahassee State Representative Lorrane Ausley saif removing it will be a job for her and her legislative colleagues.

"If that's the best answer, that can be a template for the whole state," she noted, but cautioned, "There are a lot of things at work here and hopefully they'll all mesh together and get us to the place we need to be."

At the same time, the community committee wanted local title companies and neighborhood associations to include statements in home buyers' packets condemning the old covenenants. Leroy Peck heads the Council of Neighborhood Associations.

"We're doing what we can do here and also shooting for the legislative goal, (which) is a win-win," he said. "The big disappointment would be if we have all this uproar and nothing happens."

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Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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