/ Modified sep 25, 2019 1:50 p.m.

Archive Tucson: Moving into a white neighborhood

Joel Turner describes the interactions he experienced moving into a white neighborhood in midtown Tucson in the 1960s.

Joel Turner describes the interactions, positive and negative, he experienced upon moving into a white neighborhood in midtown Tucson in the 1960s. This story originally aired alongside AZPM reporting about housing discrimination in Tucson.


JOEL TURNER: Some areas I could not buy in. I looked at some houses over back towards the Arizona Inn. You had a lot of houses in there for sale. They wouldn't sell them to me. Oh, no, they wouldn't sell that to me. I used to go through there all the time. Guy would look at me and shuddering. I mean... [LAUGHTER] They didn't want to sell to an Afro-American. They didn't want you in there.

I was lucky to buy the house I bought. I had purchased a house in the vicinity of Grant and Country Club and we were in a completely white neighborhood. There were no Afro-Americans in that neighborhood at that time.

At the very beginning, a man came down who'd lived in the vicinity and indicated that he came down to see if we were registered to vote. And I said, yes, we are, as a matter of fact.

And then he proceeded to tell me that they had a covenant. I said, what is that? “Well, you're not supposed to be living here.” I said, well, I'm here. I bought the house. I have two guns, which I will use starting with you, if necessary. And then I told him to leave, which he did.

My neighbors right next to me, they were very cordial, very cordial. And the neighbor next to them was very cordial. And we never had any problems in the neighborhood after that, none. Nobody bothered me. Nobody said hello. That didn't bother me. I didn't care if they spoke to me or didn't speak to me 'cause I didn't come there to speak to them. I came there live.

This story is part of Archive Tucson, an oral history project produced by Aengus Anderson through the University of Arizona Libraries' Special Collections.

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