Florida woman finds racist language in homeowners association contract

Article and Video Courtesy of Channel 3 News WSAZ

By Sophia Hernandez

Published July 6, 2019



TALLAHASSEE - A woman looking to buy a home is expressing concern for “restrictive racial language” in the neighborhood homeowner’s association document, WCTV reported.


The covenant, written in the 1930s, still exists in HOA documents that must be signed when buying a home in the Betton Hills neighborhood.

Annabelle Diaz said she found language in the covenant saying only Caucasians can live in the area.

Diaz went to her attorney, Jami Coleman, and other community leaders, and a news conference was held Monday to see what can be done to change the language.

Coleman said her client felt hurt and concerned.

"When she saw that document on a property that she fell in love with, she experienced that discrimination. So how do we fix that?" the attorney said. "How do we avoid potential homeowners from feeling that again?"


Coleman says the reason this is being brought to light now is because Diaz is white and her son is African-American, and she was confused if her son would be able to live on the property. Diaz and her mother are French, and Coleman says the current language in the document causes individuals like Diaz to look elsewhere for a home.

The Rev. B Holmes, of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, hopes the community sees what needs to be done.

"No one in Betton Hills, no one in Tallahassee will applaud this kind of situation, where it says only Caucasians can live in the area," Holmes said.

One Tallahassee resident, Lilla Richardson, said she was appalled by the covenant.

"We should be able to live where we want to live," she said.

The document was deemed unconstitutional in 1948 and said to be expired in 1970. However, because of an easement in the document, the covenant is still active.

"I would think that we have come so far that we wouldn't have to be experiencing these things still, but we're just not far enough," Coleman said.

When she initially asked what could be done, the City of Tallahassee responded it was a private matter. But the easement is in regard to utilities, which are governed by the city.

On Monday, Deputy City Manager Cynthia Barber said the city wants to work with Diaz, the neighborhood and other interested parties "to not only address what is happening in Betton but also what is happening in other neighborhoods, if it should exist in those neighborhoods."

Holmes was distressed over the impact of these words.

"This document brings about bad memories of when people were discriminated against because of race, color and religion," Holmes said.