Charlotte Park and Recreation Commission v. Barringer

242 N.C. 311, 88 S.E.2d 114 (1955)

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Charlotte Park and Recreation Commission v. Barringer

North Carolina Supreme Court
242 N.C. 311, 88 S.E.2d 114 (1955)

Facts

In 1927, three individuals and the City of Charlotte each conveyed land to the Charlotte Park and Recreation Commission (the commission) (plaintiff) to build a park. The conveyances were conditioned on the use of the park by White people only. Osmond Barringer conveyed his land by a deed (the Barringer deed) stating that the park was to be used only by White people and that if the park was not reserved for White people, the land would revert to Barringer. W. T. Shore conveyed his property using a similar deed but later executed a quitclaim deed releasing any right of reversion to the land. The City of Charlotte also conveyed land using a deed with a racial restriction and a reverter clause if the restriction was violated. Abbott Realty conveyed its property with a deed (the Abbott deed) that limited use of the park to White people but did not specify that the land would revert to Abbott if the park was used by non-Whites. In 1951, a group of Black residents (the Black residents) (defendants) petitioned the commission to permit them to use the park’s golf course after being denied entry. The Black residents argued that the denial of the use of a park operated by a state agency violated their constitutional rights. The commission sued, naming the grantors and the Black residents as defendants, seeking a declaratory judgement on the status of the park lands if non-White people were permitted to use the park. The court ruled that the use of the park by non-White people would violate the Barringer and Abbot deeds, so the land would revert to the grantors. However, as the park’s golf court was the only public golf course in Charlotte, the racial restriction in Charlotte’s conveyance violated the Fourteenth Amendment. The Black residents appealed the rulings pertaining to the Barringer and Abbot deeds.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Parker, J.)

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