Racial Covenants Still Found In Some Cheyenne Neighborhoods
While they aren’t legally enforceable at this point, some older Cheyenne neighborhoods still have covenants that ban “non-whites” from living there on the books.
Kris Koski is the director for the Professional Land Management concentration within the academic program for Energy Resource Management and Development at the University of Wyoming and is also a Cheyenne attorney.
He says that while a 1940’s court decision and subsequent federal civil rights laws in the 1960s has long made the restrictions unenforceable, that doesn’t mean they are harmless. ”They don’t make people of color feel welcome” he told Townsquare Media of Cheyenne in a recent interview.
He also said he is concerned that having such restrictions in place, even if they are legally unenforceable, might make recruiting businesses to move to Cheyenne more difficult. Koski also said he has no doubt that most current city residents would not agree with the sentiments expressed by the restrictions and many would be horrified to know they are still in place.
Cheyenne City Councilman Richard Johnson says he looked into the covenants when he previously served on the city council between 2014-2018. He says he first discovered the covenants in connection with the Moore Haven Heights neighborhood, which dates back to the 1930s. But Johnson says he soon learned that such restrictions are not unusual in older city neighborhoods, He also found that the covenants are not under the jurisdiction of the city council and that eliminating them would have to be done on a neighborhood by neighborhood basis.
Johnson, who grew up in Cheyenne, also said that while the city may have never had segregation laws on the books of the type that were once in place in the south, there were commonly understood informal guidelines on where people of color could live in the city.
The photo attached to this article shows one such covenant that is still in place in a Cheyenne neighborhood that dates from the 1940s. Attached below is an interview with Koski and Johnson that aired on the ”Weekend in Wyoming” program on AM 650, KGAB on Jan. 2, 2021.