HAYWARD — It started when a black man, a doctoral student from Kenya, jumped into a swimming pool at the Pacifica Apartments.

"I noticed at the time that everybody got out of the pool," said John Kriege, who moved into the Harder Road apartment complex in 1961. "I didn't notice it too much because we were all having fun."

Kriege, then a first-year teacher at Washington High School in Fremont, had invited his parents, his girlfriend and his Kenyan friend, studying at the University of California, Berkeley, over for a summer party.

The next day, the apartment manager came by to scold him.

"The manager, Mrs. Rubin, told me I couldn't do that. I couldn't have blacks in the pool," Kriege said. "She said it wasn't her own personal feeling.It was because of the people who live there."

The incident became a lightning rod for a largely forgotten Civil Rights Movement in Hayward that, while small, resulted in what activists say was a demonstrated impact in helping to diminish local housing bias.

Kriege said he wasn't initially sure what to do about the discrimination. He asked the manager if he could go to other tenants of the 40-unit complex and ask them to change the policy. She relented, and Kriege conducted an anonymous poll.

"I should have used a different tactic," Kriege said. "I got a lot of (racial epithets) written on these letters that returned to me. That ended that. The majority was obviously against changing any policies there.


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It was a time of civil rights battles across the country, and much of the local debate was about discriminatory housing practices.

Some of it was subtle. Developers built tract housing at a rapid pace in Hayward in the 1950s and 1960s, and Realtors were known to steer African Americans and other minorities to increasingly segregated neighborhoods such as Kelly Hill, an unincorporated area east of Hayward, or Palma Ceia in South Hayward.

Sometimes the racism was blatant. Homes built after World War II in San Lorenzo Village carried with them covenants that barred anyone who was not "wholly of the white or Caucasian race."

In June 1963, the California Legislature passed the Rumford Fair Housing Act, making it illegal to use racial preference when selling or renting homes. But the act caused a statewide and local backlash.

In August 1963, a Southern Alameda County chapter of the nationwide Congress of Racial Equality formed in the home of a resident on Kelly Hill. Kriege called them up and asked for help.

Soon, a small group of mostly white liberal activists spent weekend after weekend picketing outside Pacifica Apartments. They sent "testers," African Americans pretending to try to rent there, and accumulated a list of alleged violations from the Pacifica and other apartments across the area.

The local real estate industry fought back, saying landlords across the city were being unfairly smeared.

The editorial board of The Daily Review weighed in, railing against the protests and calling them a "curbside kangaroo court."

The protests, the newspaper wrote, gave "credence to recent charges that militant elements of the Negro organizations are less interested in actually acquiring better housing than they are in preserving the racial unrest and mounting further raids on the rights of the majority."

By November 1964, the Rumford Act had been shot down by voters with the real estate industry-supported Proposition 14, only to be revived by a court action three years later.

Meanwhile, city officials reacting to the increasingly public airing of racial discrimination formed the Hayward Human Relations Commission — what Mayor John Pappas said, in July 1964, should be "some kind of permanent human rights fact-finding and mediation group."

The commission, which had only one black man on it, released a report later that year describing Hayward as "a city almost entirely Caucasian, surrounded by, at least, incipient ghettoes. The ghetto is an immoral, unhealthy, outmoded and un-American institution."

"The Hayward situation," the report continued, "while not healthy, is not yet dangerous. The ghettos are still small. But in the next year, five years, ten years, the situation could become quite bad."

Jim Forsyth, who joined CORE and moved his family into Kelly Hill, said the neighborhood was more than anything a "fancy ghetto" — one of the few places middle-class African Americans could find a decent home without hassle.

"My own interpretation is that the real estate people made a lot more money by doing this," Forsyth said. "They enforced segregation by the way they sold their homes. They could charge black people more for their homes because there were essentially two markets."

Forsyth, now 80, said he still thinks about the protests every time he passes Pacifica Apartments.