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The American Nightmare of John Petro Forakis - Part 5

John Liebertz, the current Historic Preservation Planner Coordinator for the Montgomery County, Maryland planning board, had stated in an email conversation with the author that many of the racial restrictive covenants discriminated against African Americans, but a number of the covenants listed other racial and ethnic groups. All of the covenants we have found that includes “Greeks” are prefaced with the term “semitic race” as shown [below in a] covenant associated with Sixteenth Street Village in Woodside, Montgomery County, MD:

No negro, or any person or persons of whose blood or extraction or to any person of the semitic race whose blood or origin of racial description will be deemed to include Armenians, Jews, Hebrews, Persians, Syrians, Greeks and Turks, shall use or occupy any building or any lot, except that this covenant shall not prevent occupancy by domestic servants of a different race domiciled with an owner or tenant.

In the same email, Liebertz also offered the author more information regarding the 1961 Commission on Civil Rights, V.4, [where it] discusses a real estate agency practice in Michigan that discriminated against southern Europeans.

Homer Hoyt, who the Federal Housing Administration employed as an economist in 1934, wrote a dissertation that examined perceived neighborhood desirability based on race and nationalities, where he openly references Greeks in Chicago, Illinois. It was at Hoyt’s affiliated agency, The Home Owner’ Loan Corporation (HOLC), where a segregated map and list of the hierarchy had also existed. The map was labeled as follows:

A “green” neighborhood was white, affluent, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant. A “blue” one had less desirable whites—Jews, Irish, and Italians—but was stable and upwardly mobile. A “yellow” one had undesirable, often working-class whites and a “red” one was predominantly black or Mexican, regardless of wealth or class.

According to the HOLC’s hierarchy of property owners shown below, Greeks were sixth. Note that at the top of the list were the Germans, alongside the previously mentioned Northern Europeans (that made all the rest of the immigrants outside of their ancestral areas "earn their whiteness" once they immediately set foot on American soil by taking immigration exams), which maintained most of the top 5.

In part 6, we will finally take the long-awaited peek at Forakis' actual court case records, including the stenographer's notes, that the author legally obtained.

to be continued

Special thanks to the Forakis family for allowing Rízes Hellenic Genealogy Research to share John Petro Forakis' story with the global Greek community.

We extend our heartfelt condolences to you.

All citations are available upon request.

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