“The governing authorities of any such city shall have the full power to define the … white race … full power to enforce … the segregation of the races” (1927 Segregation Act)

Negroes and Whites–Segregation of In Cities

S. B. No. 275.] Chapter 103.

An Act providing for the segregation or separation of the white and negro races and providing for the conferring of power and authority upon cities to pass suitable ordinance controlling the same and providing for fixing the penalty and declaring an emergency.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Texas:

Section 1. That the power and authority is hereby conferred upon the Cities of Texas to provide by suitable ordinance for the segregation of negroes and whites in any such city and to withhold permits to build or construct a house to be occupied by white people in negro communities inhabited by negroes as defined by ordinance and to withhold building permits to any negro to establish a residence on any property located in a white community inhabited by white people as defined by ordinance.

Sec. 2. That it shall be lawful for negroes and whites to enter into mutual covenants or agreements concerning their respective residence and the power and authority is conferred upon the governing body of any city to pass suitable ordinances requiring the observance of any such agreement.

Sec. 3. That the governing authorities of any such city shall have the full power to define the negro race, negro community, white race and white community.

Sec. 4. That the governing authorities of any such city shall have full power to enforce the observance of any ordinance passed leading to or providing for the segregation of the races and to require the observance thereof by appropriate penalties.

Sec. 5. That this Act shall take effect from and after its passage and shall repeal all acts in conflict herewith.

Sec. 6. On account of the fact that there does not exist any adequate requirement or law conferring upon the cities of Texas the express power to pass suitable segregation laws between the whites and colored race, and whereas on account of the fact that the peace, quiet, and tranquility of such cities are greatly affected, as well as the public health greatly menaced, creates an emergency and an imperative necessity requiring the suspension of the constitutional rule that bills be read on three several days and it is hereby suspended, and this act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage and it is so enacted.

[Note.–The above act, though carrying the emergency clause, did not pass in the Senate by a roll call vote. Received in Executive Office March 15, 1927, and in Secretary of State’s Office March 16, 1927, without Governor’s signature.]

Effective ninety (90) days after adjournment.

H. P. N. Gammel, The Laws of Texas, 1927: Supplement Volume to the Original Ten Volumes, 1822-1897 (Austin, Texas: Gammel's Book Store, 1927), 154 (link).

See also: Full Power to Define

“Residential segregation, therefore, did not occur in a single pattern in the cities of south, central, and west Texas during the nineteenth century” (de León and Stewart)

1900: residential segregation numbers for San Antonio, Brownsville, Corpus, El Paso, Laredo.

Table 5.8 reports the indices of segregation for five cities [87] in 1900.[14] The index of segregation is expressed as the percentage of Tejanos or Anglos that would have to residentially relocate from one of the city’s wards to another if both Tejanos and Anglos were represented in each ward in proportion to their presence in the total citywide population. Generally, a small index of segregation indicates residential diffusion of an ethnic group across the wards of a city, while a larger index results when an ethnic population is disproportionately clustered into only some of the wards.

Table 5.8
Indices of Segregation for Five South, Central, and West Texas Cities, 1900
City Tejanos Anglos
Brownsville 3.33% 20.06%
Corpus Christi 26.58% 34.39%
El Paso 25.64% 22.10%
Laredo 5.16% 34.38%
San Antonio 42.82% 10.59%

Overall, the indices in Table 5.8 demonstrate three different patterns of residential segregation among Tejanos and Anglos in the cities of south, central, and west Texas. The first is illustrated by the southern-most cities–Brownsville and Laredo–where the majority of the population were Tejanos. In these cities, the low index of segregation for Tejanos shows that Mexican Americans were quite generally distributed across the city wards, while the higher index for Anglos indicates more residential clustering. In San Antonio, where whites were a majority of the city’s population, the opposite patterns developed where Anglos were more generally distributed across the city and Tejanos clustered into a few wards. The third situation is illustrated by Corpus Christi and El Paso, cities where neither Tejanos nor Anglo Americans dominated the citywide population. In these [88] cities, the indices of segregation were relatively large for both groups, indicating that each group was residentially clustered into separate areas.

Residential segregation, therefore, did not occur in a single pattern in the cities of south, central, and west Texas during the nineteenth century….

Arnoldo de León and Kenneth L. Stewart, Tejanos and the Numbers Game: A Socio-Historical Interpretation from the Federal Censuses, 1850-1900 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1989), 86-88.

  1. [14]For detailed discussion of the index of segregation, see Otis Dudley Duncan and Beverly Duncan, “Residential Distribution and Occupational Stratification,”American Journal of Sociology, 60 (1955), 493-503. Also see, Karl E. Taeuber and Alma F. Taeuber, Negroes in Cities: Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Change (Chicago: Atheneum, 1965), pp. 195-245.