Mentis Carrere was a black activist in Los Angeles mainly known for his 1926 heroic defense of his home against a white mob angry that he became an occupant in a formerly all-white neighborhood. Born on December 9, 1891 in Louisiana, Carrere was a working-class African American who migrated to Los Angeles to work as a painter. He was also a novelist and an activist who preached economic self-reliance and racial solidarity for the African American community, especially in housing segregation issues.
During the 1920s housing boom in Los Angeles, Carrere purchased a home in the previously all-white Green Meadows neighborhood in the western half of South Los Angeles. In 1926, the Southwest Chamber of Commerce organized a local campaign to try to drive Carrere from the neighborhood. White mobs gathered in front of his residence to intimidate him and his family by throwing bricks at his home. With no guarantee of police protection, Carrere armed himself with several guns. He also recruited several armed supporters who moved into his home to counter the white mobs. His supporters occasionally shot their guns into the air to disperse the crowds. Carrere’s story parallels the more famous account of Dr. Ossian Sweet’s 1925 defense of his home in Detroit. In this instance, however, no one was injured.
Carrere worked for the Oakley Paint Company. From the 1940s through the 1960s, he served as a technical director for the Sinclair Paint Company in Los Angeles. He also wrote two novels dealing with black life in Louisiana: Men in the Cane, published in 1956, and It’s All South: The True Story, in Novel Form, of a Family’s Struggle to Live Where it Desired, published in 1966.
Although he suffered a heart attack in 1945, Carrere survived until March 7, 1989, when he died in his home in Santa Paula, California at the age of 98.