Last year, Wayne Frost, a Black man and owner of Frost Auto Accessories, wanted to purchase the lot behind his warehouse to start growing his business.
He went to the city of Edmond and acquired the proper commercial zoning permits.
“I’ve done everything that I need to do to adhere to all the rules, regulations and laws of the city of Edmond and the state of Oklahoma,” said Frost.
But some of the neighbors nearby were not warm to that idea.
An attorney, representing some of the homeowners in the area, sent Frost the covenant of the subdivision.
Line 6 reads:
No person of any race, other than the Caucasian or American Indian, shall ever own, use, or occupy any land or structure in this addition except that this covenant and restriction shall not apply to nor prevent occupancy of domestic servants of a different race domiciled with an owner or tenant.
“When I received that, that’s a form of intimidation,” said Frost.
The business owner went to the city of Edmond and was told that form of racial discrimination, known as a racial covenant, is not enforceable.
But the experience did not sit right with Frost.
“It’s intimidating for anybody whether you’re African American or brown skin or anybody that’s different than the norm,” said the auto shop owner.
KFOR reached out to the attorney, but he did not return our request for comment.
Rep. John Pfeiffer, R-Orlando, read about this story last year in an article from a local media outlet.
This year, he decided to draft legislation, HB 2288, to eradicate racist or discriminatory language in covenants.
“What this does is it puts a form in place. You can just fill it out if you come across this stuff. Take it down to the county clerk’s office and be able to get it out of there,” said Pfeiffer.
His bill passed with unanimous support in the House and near unanimous support in the Senate.
Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, who has recently been elected as the Oklahoma GOP Chairman, was the sole lawmaker against this bill.
Dahm did not return a request for comment.
HB 2288 was signed by Governor Kevin Stitt and will become law on November 1.
Frost appreciated the work Pfeiffer did with that bill. He looks back on when he first moved to Edmond in the mid-1970s.
Frost was a young college student at Central State University, which is now University of Central Oklahoma.
At the time, Frost said he was harassed for not only being Black, but also for being in a relationship with a white woman, who is now his wife.
“Being young and African American at that time, there was really no recourse that I had…who am I going to complain to…because it was systemic,” said Frost.
But through the years, he watched Edmond grow and become more “inclusive.”
Edmond elected Darrell Davis, its first Black mayor, in 2021.
Davis was reelected last month.
The mayor is pleased to see HB 2288 become law to help correct racial ills from the past.
“The signing of HB2288 is a step in the right direction of correcting the historical discriminatory language of our past that prevented African Americans and other ethnic groups from having the ability to live where they wanted to live and own property. I am appreciative that property owners can now take legal steps to have this language removed from their property records,” said Davis, in a statement to KFOR.
Frost said it appears that the dispute with the neighbors is over.
Many of the folks in the neighborhood are customers and now call him pledging their support to his business.
“I’ve had a lot of people call me and talk to me and tell me that they have no problems with me being here and to wish me luck in all my endeavors,” said Frost.
He said construction will begin on the new land in about 45 days.
Pfeiffer has never met Frost but is looking forward to reaching out now that session is over and he has more time.
“I’m glad his business is thriving and glad we can move forward as a state together,” said the lawmaker.