chapter
The American ghetto as an international human rights crisis
The fight against racial restrictive covenants, 1945–1948
ByJeffrey D. Gonda
Pages 17

One of the more fascinating elements of the anti-covenant fight was a set of arguments that never gained much traction in the courts, but that represented the innovation, urgency, and evolving political dynamics that shaped urban civil rights activism after the war. Activists' use of a global human rights perspective in these cases affords valuable insights into their efforts to contest the further entrenchment of urban segregation and how this struggle helped shape the process of litigating racial justice at mid-century. Invoking the American ghetto as an international human rights crisis played a key part in another significant development affecting the outcome of the anti-­covenant campaign: the intervention of the Department of Justice (DOJ) on behalf of the LDF's clients. Indeed, Shelley became the first time in history that the DOJ participated in a civil rights case between private parties. Shelley, however, marked a crucial moment before the LDF abandoned its more expansive human rights claims.