In the summer of ’63, black students led protests against the South Bay’s white-only neighborhoods

Hundreds of demonstrators jam sidewalks in the Southwood housing tract to march for fair housing in 1963.

“It was the hot, fraught summer of 1963. Every weekend 18-year-old college students Bobbie and Renee Hodges would trek over to the boiling, treeless Torrance housing tract of Southwood Riviera Royale, developed by Don Wilson Builders. With their teased hair and stylish summer shift dresses they looked like the quintessential early ’60s All-American girls. But this All-American neighborhood was closed to them, for the simple fact that they were black. To fight this injustice, they sat-in and picketed in front of the planned community’s sales office at 23448 Evalyn Avenue. The twins were ‘dedicated, dynamic and full of spirit,’ according to the Los Angeles Sentinel, and by August they had been arrested three times for their efforts. But Bobbie explained to the newspaper that their sacrifices were well worth it. ‘Our goal is not to get one home, but to set a precedent of selling homes to Negroes in white tracts. Wilson’s just happens to be a target area. We want a Negro to be able to buy here because he can pay for a house. In demonstration, we point out discrimination to people.’ … These were just two of the voices of the thousands of activists who protested at Southwood Riviera Royale, as well as Wilson’s Dominguez Hills and Centerview tracts. For 13 months during the height of the Civil Rights movement, these middle class housing developments became the epicenter of the fight for equal rights in the Southland. This turn of events was probably not what Don Wilson Sr. expected when he founded Don Wilson Builders in 1955. According to the company’s website, in its first year it was already the fourth largest home builder in the United States. Riding the postwar building boom in Southern California, Wilson built single family homes in new suburbs that sprang to life during the cookie-cutter 1950s. According to South Bay historian and The Daily Breeze journalist Sam Gnerre, by the early 1960s, Don Wilson Builders had developed 50 communities of more than 50,000 homes in California. The company did not respond to interview requests. …”
The Atlantic: How White Backlash Controls American Progress
CORE’s Struggle for Fair Housing Rights in LA

Police arrest and carry off CORE picketers from outside a home in Torrance.

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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