Rock Hill neighborhood discovers racist bylaw, comes together to remove it

Rock Hill neighborhood discovers racist bylaw, comes together to remove it
The Rock Hill neighborhood came together to vote, removing the racist bylaw. (Source: Morgan Newell, WBTV)

ROCK HILL, S.C. (WBTV) - A movement to change a racist bylaw in a homeowners association in Rock Hill is still going on. The change is bringing the Rock Hill neighborhood, Fewell Estates, closer together.

Megan Paat and her husband are raising their kids in a neighborhood that looks like most. Mailboxes line the streets, newspapers lie at the bottom of driveways and flags fly showing pride for sports teams.

Earlier this year, the neighborhood was stunned by a new realization.

“It was brought to everyone’s attention there was some racist language in the covenant,” says Paat.

The Homeowners Association bylaws stated only people of the Caucasian race could live in the neighborhood, unless they were a domestic servant. This not only shook Paat to her core on an emotional level, but a personal one as well.

”It just immediately put a surge of whew that is not ok,” says Paat. “Also, my husband is Pilipino which means my children are Pilipino. So I started thinking wow from a wife perspective and as a mother technically we shouldn’t be living here.”

The original homeowners wrote the bylaws in 1940. Time has shaped the neighborhood into what Paat calls a place of diverse people and thought.

”Just to have the desire to love well and be inclusive is not always enough,” says Paat.

Paat brought her worries to the executive board, but another neighbor already delivered the message.

”When he brought that up even in a joking way it just kind of took everyone aback. We thought we need to make a change,” says Melissa McGinnis, one of the neighborhood’s executive team members.

The change came with a hefty task for McGinnis and the executive team. They needed half of the 204 registered homeowners to vote to remove it. On Wednesday, they had 106 and counting.

”Rock Hill’s a great place to live,” says McGinnis. “We have our new no room for racism sign and I think it’s important that applies to all areas of the city. It’s not just a message painted on the street.”

”I think symbolically it’s huge. If we had just left it then it would have said that we’re ok with that and we don’t care and that’s not the case at all.”>

The change is overall symbolic, but it was a powerful one for the people living in the neighborhood. McGinnis says the executive team is still allowing people to vote. They received so many phone calls from people wanting the opportunity to be a part of this change.

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