The most inspiring part involves a civil-rights battle that few remember. Lincoln and Dorothy Mulkey were a young military couple who tried to rent an apartment in Santa Ana, only to find out that landlord Neil Reitman wouldn’t accept them as tenants because of their race. Reitman had every right to discriminate: The year before, Proposition 14 overturned the Rumford Fair Housing Act, which outlawed housing discrimination in California. The Mulkeys took their story to the ACLU, which advised them to sue Reitman. The resulting case, Mulkey v. Reitman, went to the Supreme Court in 1967, which found in the Mulkeys’ favor and overturned Prop. 14, effectively outlawing housing discrimination in the United States.

“I knew the changes were right around the corner,” Dorothy Mulkey—who still lives in Santa Ana—told interviewers about her decision to take on so momentous a challenge as a 23-year-old. “And I also knew that someone had to initiate those changes, that in Orange County, which is a Republican county even now, things weren’t going to happen unless someone pushed the right buttons. So why shouldn’t it be me?”

A Different Shade of Orange: Voices of Orange County, California, Black Pioneers was edited by Robert A. Johnson and Charlene M. Riggins; Center for Oral and Public History, Cal State Fullerton. Paperback, 346 pages, $24.

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