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Covington (Floyd C.) papers
7057  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Scope and Contents
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Preferred Citation
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • External Documents

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: USC Libraries Special Collections
    Title: Floyd C. Covington papers
    creator: Covington, Floyd C., 1901-1989
    creator: Covington, Alma
    Identifier/Call Number: 7057
    Physical Description: 20 Linear Feet 27 boxes, 5 oversize folders, and 1 artifact
    Date (inclusive): 1901-1989
    Date (bulk): 1930-1970
    Abstract: Floyd C. Covington was a civic leader in Los Angeles' African American community from the late 1920s to the 1970s. Through his work as the first Executive Director of the Los Angeles Urban League and his service in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Covington redefined social welfare and equal opportunity in both employment and housing for various communities in Los Angeles. Covington's papers contain his early scholarship and poetry from his youth and education in Seattle, Washington and Topeka, Kansas; scrapbooks, photographs, posters, and reports from his leadership of the Los Angeles Urban League during the 1930s and 1940s; correspondence, speech drafts, and other writings documenting Covington's work in intergroup relations and equal opportunity at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; family mementos -- including papers and photographs from Covington's wife, Alma Covington, and his father in law, Thomas Augustus Greene, Sr.; and lastly, correspondence, realia, and creative works documenting Covington's strong relationships with community associations, such as the YMCA in Los Angeles, and his passions for creative writing, music, and theater. The Covington papers document the history of Los Angeles' African American community in both the pre- and post-World War II periods.

    Biographical / Historical

    Floyd C. Covington (1901-1989) was a civic leader in Los Angeles' African American community from the late 1920s to the 1970s. Through his work as the first Executive Director of the Los Angeles Urban League and his service in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Covington redefined social welfare and equal opportunity in both employment and housing for various communities in Los Angeles.
    Born Floyd James Cornelius Covington to Charles Covington and Lulu Jeltz Covington, Floyd was orphaned during his youth in Denver, Colorado and subsequently adopted by Reverend James Logan Craw and Lillian J. Brown. Covington attended Broadway High School in Seattle, Washington and then Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, receiving a bachelor's degree in Sociology and Economics in 1927. Covington then acquired his MA degree at the University of Pittsburgh and a Degree in Mundane and Arcane Sciences from the Rosicrucian University in San Jose, California. During the 1940s when Covington was working at the Los Angeles Urban League, he also began taking courses toward a PhD at the University of Southern California -- matriculating in USC's departments of Sociology and Economics.
    Covington's employment history spans from 1928 to 1970:
    • 1928-1930: Industrial Relations Secretary, Los Angeles Urban League
    • 1930-1931: Membership Secretary and Acting Physical Director, 28th Street Branch YMCA
    • 1931-1950: Executive Director, Los Angeles Urban League
    • 1950-1957: Intergroup Relations Adviser, Zone V., Federal Housing Administration
    • 1957-1970: Equal Opportunity Specialist, Zone V., Department of Housing and Urban Development
    In 1929, Floyd Covington married Willa Alma Greene, also known as Alma Covington", who taught and served as an elementary school principal in the Los Angeles Unified School District until 1965. Floyd also worked with Alma's father, Thomas Augustus Greene, Sr., who was another prominent African American community leader in Los Angeles. T. A. Greene served as secretary of the "Los Angeles Colored YMCA" from 1906 to 1932 and he led the effort to raise funds for and open the 28th Street Branch of the YMCA in 1926. Floyd and Alma had one son, Floyd C. Covington, Jr., who also worked for the Los Angeles Urban League. [This collection only contains one or two files relating to Covington, Jr. Files in this collection referring to "Floyd Covington"--without "Jr." or "Sr." specified--always relate to Floyd C. Covington, Sr.]
    In his personal and professional life, Covington was a community leader, educator, poet, author, and playwright. Among other achievements, Covington prevented the Santa Monica freeway from cutting through a historically black neighborhood, he advocated for equal pay for African Americans, and he demanded more authentic portrayals of African Americans in film. Along with his father in law, T. A. Greene, Covington was instrumental in establishing the first black YMCA in Los Angeles.
    After retiring in 1970, Covington devoted much of his labor to religious and community associations, including the Men of Tomorrow, the Scottsboro Boys Defense Fund, Wesley Methodist Church, Holman United Methodist Church, and various housing and zoning initiatives.

    Scope and Contents

    The Floyd C. Covington papers document Covington's early life and education, his leadership of the Los Angeles Urban League during the 1930s and 1940s, the local advances in intergroup relations and equal opportunity initiatives that Covington directed at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, his strong relationships with both family and community, and his personal creativity in writing, music, and theater.
    The parts of Covington's papers that relate to his work at the Los Angeles Urban League document important milestones for African American communities in Los Angeles. One of Covington's Urban League scrapbooks contains news clippings, photographs, and correspondence highlighting Covington's work at the Los Angeles Urban League -- with photographs demonstrating successful job placements for African Americans as Safeway clerks and managers, Pay'N Take Store employees, Helms Bakeries salesmen, Thrifty Drug Co. employees, manufacturers at Pacific Parachute Company aircraft plants, and others. This part of the collection also holds nine large Urban League posters that visualize racial inequalities in labor economics and job market opportunities -- as well as photographs documenting the "first transcontinental negro flight".
    The series comprising records from Covington's employment at the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) contain a significant amount of correspondence between Covington and notable public figures, including former Governor of California, Earl Warren and former mayor of Los Angeles, Fletcher Bowron. The HUD portion of the collection also holds material relating to a series of Loyalty Board hearings, which investigated claims against Covington's potential communist influences "for the purpose of establishing [Covington's] suitability for employment in the Federal service."
    Other highlights of Covington's papers include his family mementos--such as Alma Covington's photograph albums and travel diaries; materials illustrating Covington's artistic creations, such as his poetry, personal narratives, and his violin; published articles that Covington authored; and a large scrapbook documenting a testimonial banquet held in 1971 following Covington's retirement titled, "Four Decades of Service - Honoring Floyd C. Covington." The testimonial scrapbook is accompanied by various awards, tributes, and official resolutions honoring Covington's contributions.

    Conditions Governing Access

    Advance notice required for access.

    Conditions Governing Use

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

    Preferred Citation

    [Box/folder no. or item name], Floyd C. Covington papers, Collection no. 7057, Regional History Collection, Special Collections, USC Libraries, University of Southern California

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Purchased from Elizabeth Covington via John Ralmon, August 2017.

    External Documents

    Link 

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    African Americans -- California -- Los Angeles -- History -- 20th century -- Archival resources
    Discrimination in housing -- California -- Los Angeles -- Archival resources
    Minorities -- Employment -- California -- Los Angeles -- 20th century -- Archival resources
    Minorities -- Housing -- California -- Los Angeles -- Archival resources
    Occupational segregation -- California -- Los Angeles -- 20th century -- Archival resources
    Social justice -- United States -- History -- 20th century -- Archival resources
    Correspondence
    Photograph albums
    Posters
    Scrapbooks
    Covington, Floyd C., 1901-1989 -- Archives
    Covington, Alma -- Archives
    Los Angeles Urban League -- Archives
    United States. Federal Housing Administration -- Archives
    United States. Department of Housing and Urban Development -- Archives