Covenants Neighborhoods Suburban Expansion 1952 Earthquake Zoning
Mayflower Annex- Block 10
In 1944, Elmer Karpe, a white real estate developer, filed the first all-black restrictive covenant for new homes he built on Block 10 of Mayflower. The restrictive covenant guaranteed that African Americans were the buyers of the new homes in Mayflower. Bakersfield historian and activist Johnie Mae Parker argued that this was the start of the “White Flight” and the demographic transformation of the Mayflower. “White Flight” was a national phenomenon affecting other neighborhoods. A common practice, “White Flight,” was a process in which whites left older and sometimes blighted neighborhoods for new suburban homes. Karpe is credited with building new homes for black residents. Nationally, historians have argued that in the pre-war era, segregation had occurred at the block or neighborhood level (and at the social services level), rather than in large areas or entire tracts. Whites could live near African Americans, on the same street but a block over, never having significant or substantial distance between neighbors. After World War II, with suburban development, segregation extended to entire neighborhoods, increasing inequality. Nevertheless, local myths in Bakersfield persist that these neighborhoods were always segregated. In the postwar era, neighborhoods in Bakersfield, just as in the urban and rural West, became more racially homogenous (segregated) by the 1960s.
This neighborhood is unique, as it was segregated as a black-only neighborhood.
See Johnie Mae Parker, How Long? Not Long!: The Battle to end Poverty in Bakersfield, (Bakersfield: Johnie Mae Parker, 1987)
Cruz, Donato. “‘America’s Newest City’: 1950s Bakersfield and the Making of the Modern Suburban Segregated Landscape.” ProQuest Thesis Publishing, 2020.