Buried in the ad for a piece of property in Fairhaven, Mass., was the passage, "The said land shall not be sold, leased or rented to any person other than of the Caucasian race or to any entity of which any person other than that of said race shall be a member, stockholder, officer or director."
Mandi Costa read it and thought, "No way, this cannot be true," she told CBS station WBZ-TV in Boston.
The ad's language was familiar to Costa. "Obviously [the language] is in somebody's will or is an oversight on somebody's part. But this is wrong, this is unfair. I felt like I was back in the 60s," she said.
Records at Fairhaven's town hall show a deed from 1946 when the original property was divided. The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination calls it "unlawful and unenforceable under Massachusetts statute."
The law firm in Newton, Mass., that placed the ad said in a statement, "This notice involves a restriction that a previous owner placed on the property. We do not condone the language and do not believe it would be enforceable."
To be sure, Costa has filed a discrimination lawsuit. "Discrimination is alive and well and this is a primary example of something that says we're not equal yet. This is why I'm trying to bring light to everyone," she said. "This is old language. I completely understand that. But this is a new time."
The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination is checking to see if any laws were broken when the ad was published. The New Bedford Standard-Times called the ad's placement in the paper a "gross oversight." Harmon Law said it removed the racist language from any future legal notices.