'Whites-only' policy repealed in Ann Arbor neighborhood after 75 years

A racial covenant in an Ann Arbor neighborhoods deed was finally repealed by civil rights members and community groups. The restrictive covenant existed since 1947.

Ann Arbor's Hannah neighborhood had an outdated, unenforceable, and illegal "whites-only" policy that existed in the subdivision's deed.

"Sure, it’s not enforceable, but we see it as being no different than there being a sign in the entrance to the subdivision which says whites only," said Michael Steinberg, the director of the Civil Rights Litigation Committee.

Two weekends ago, neighbors joined members of the University of Michigan's Civil Rights Litigation Committee to repeal the racist policy. An overwhelming majority signed to overturn it.

"It’s time that we examine our past, examine how past practices have shaped our community and continue to shape our community, and have impacted our residents," said Erica Briggs, an Ann Arbor city council member.

Today, Briggs walked the amendment into the Washtenaw County Register of Deed's office.

"I’m happy that we've finally made this change. I’m excited to see us kick this off for the community," Briggs said. "I hope by the end of 2022 that we can see these restrictive covenants are gone across our city."

"We see this as an opportunity for neighborhoods to really affirm their values. And to communicate that we are reckoning with this history. We are not erasing it. We are affirmatively stating all our welcome," said Nina Gerdes, a U of M student Attorney.

The civil rights and community groups are continuing to work on repealing racial covenants in other Michigan neighborhoods too.