During the 1940s-1960s, Downtown-based Black professionals, civil rights organizers, and residents led a variety of actions to challenge discriminatory practices in housing and employment. In 1946, the Richmond Council for Civic Unity (later Richmond Council on Intergroup Relations) began organizing out of the YWCA building at 1201 Nevin Avenue. Neitha’s Real Estate Office (347 6th Street) utilized a variety of tactics to increase Black homeownership throughout the city and in historically white neighborhoods, in particular. Residents Edgar and Clydeth Monk and Bea and Bill Hayes mounted a series of demonstrations at eating establishments that refused to serve black patrons, including restaurants along Macdonald Avenue. Paul T. Robinson and James Weeks (physicians), George Carroll (lawyer and later Richmond’s first Black Mayor), James McMillan (pharmacist), the Cotrights (grocers), and others worked to build community, support aspiring Black entrepreneurs, and elect African Americans to local positions.

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