It has only been about 70 years now, that Black people in America have been able to live in any neighborhood we so please.

And that came about because on Nov. 13, 1940, the United Supreme Court, in the case of Hansberry v. Lee, ruled that it was unlawful for Whites to bar African Americans from living in White neighborhoods.

Carl Hansberry, a Black businessman, purchased a home at 6140 Rhodes Ave. in Chicago. At the same time, Harry H. Pace, a prominent Black attorney at the time and president of the Supreme Liberty Life Insurance Company, purchased a building not too far from the home of Hansberry.

In those times, a restrictive covenant prevented Black people from moving into that neighborhood, so Anna M. Lee, a White signatory of the covenant filed a lawsuit against both men for $100,000.

Both the circuit court and the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and ordered confiscation of Hansberry’s property. So, the case was taken to the U.S. Supreme Court where the decision was reversed. Although the covenants were not ruled void, the court ruled that according to the covenant agreement, if 95 percent of the owners in the designated area signed an agreement to allow “any person of the colored race” to buy, lease, or occupy a home in the area, law permitted that Hansberry had a right to be in that neighborhood.

Hansberry v. Lee helped pushed America into accepting more integrated neighborhoods and even inspired the legendary Broadway play, “Raisin in the Sun.”

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