Meadowbrook revokes racist deed restrictions

Messenger Post Media
Monroe County Post

The Confronting Our Racist Deeds Initiative successfully filed an amendment revoking the restrictive racial covenant in the deeds of the original Meadowbrook tract in Brighton, laid out in 1929 by the Kodak Employee Realty Corp. 

Restrictive covenants and redlining worked hand-in-hand to create the segregated housing patterns that persist in Rochester to this day.

The original Meadowbrook deeds state, “no lot or dwelling shall be sold to or occupied by a colored person.” Although not enforceable since 1948, these racist covenants remained on Meadowbrook deeds, as they have in other neighborhoods across Rochester and around the country.

This past August, a group of Meadowbrook neighbors formed the CORD Committee. CORD held four signature-gathering events and made house calls, exceeding the required 75% of original homes with 225 owner signatures. Through the committee’s fundraising efforts, the cost of the filing with Monroe County was covered in full.

“[Meadowbrook] has shown real grassroots leadership in organizing to eliminate racist restrictive covenants from their neighborhood deeds and especially so in replacing those covenants with anti-racist language,” Brighton Town Supervisor Bill Moehle said. “I commend them for being a model for other neighborhoods and communities.”

The committee hopes this effort will lay the groundwork for other neighborhoods to take action and address racist history. CORD created a how-to guide for neighborhoods and communities wanting to take this first step. Visit bit.ly/34mS1oy for information. 

“While not enforceable, the reality is that the impact of these deed restrictions is felt for generations,” CORD member Johnita Anthony said. “The opportunity to revoke these restrictions was an important first step.”

Next steps for the CORD Initiative include collaboration with the extended studies program at Twelve Corners Middle School, and a neighborhood conversation with educators and activists Shane Wiegand and Conor Dwyer Reynolds about equity and inclusion in housing. 

Wiegand sees positive momentum for the Rochester area in the work that happened in Meadowbrook. 

"Meadowbrook is one of many neighborhoods with this legacy,” he said. “I really think neighbors coming together to own this story and make a change is going to ripple throughout the county.”

Stock photo.