In May of 1963, the Rumford Act, which declared racial discrimination in the sale and rental of housing illegal, was enacted. Its impact was being blunted in Orange County by Proposition 14 which proposed to overthrow the Rumford Act. At this time Dorothy Mulkey and her husband, Lincoln, were looking for housing. The young couple found an attractive apartment in the city of Santa Ana, which was a segregated community at the time. The couple sought to rent an apartment but was refused by the landlord because they were African American.
The Mulkeys decided to challenge the landlord’s refusal. With the support of the ACLU and the OC Fair Housing Council, they sought redress in court. Their case, Reitman v. Mulkey, eventually came before the United States Supreme Court.
On May 29 1967, the court decided in favor of the Mulkeys, declaring Proposition 14 unconstitutional, and confirming that no landlords could refuse to rent to people based on their skin color, race/ethnicity, or religion.
Dorothy Mulkey received an OC Human Relations Award in 2014.