Doors to a career in real estate were long closed to black women

Hard to imagine today, but it wasn’t that long ago that there were no black women working in real estate in many cities and town across America. Take Saginaw, Michigan — a manufacturing center north of Flint where about half of residents are African-American.

In 1970, Thelma Poston, who died last month at the age of 83, became the first black woman to join the Saginaw Board of Realtors. She got into real estate at the urging of a local politician who asked her to join him in fighting housing discrimination, The Saginaw News’ Ashley G. Terrell reports.

“Whenever I wanted to show a house, I would call and set it up, and sometimes I would get calls like, ‘If you’re bringing blacks, don’t come,’ ” Poston told a historian in a 2003 interview.

Poston and her husband, attorney Carl Poston Jr., were recognized by the NAACP in 2009 for their impact on Saginaw.

African-Americans continue to be underrepresented in real estate, making up about 13 percent of the U.S. population, but only about 4 percent of Realtors. Source: