New Documentary Recalls Nat King Cole’s Racist Neighbors

Stephen A. Crockett Jr.
Nat King Cole

According to a new documentary set to air on the BBC, Nat King Cole's white Hollywood neighbors terrorized the singer and his family with racist and hate-filled acts, including killing their dog and burning the n-word onto their lawn, The Independent reports.

Nat King Cole: Afraid of the Dark reveals the hostility that the Cole family endured after moving into their $65,000 home in the wealthy neighborhood of Hancock Park in 1948. The exclusive Los Angeles suburb was home to some of Hollywood's biggest stars, including Katharine Hepburn, Mae West and Howard Hughes.


According to the British newspaper, the Cole family was largely despised from the first day they moved in—an event that almost didn't happen, after neighbors tried to prevent Cole from buying the house. Once the Cole family moved in, someone burned the n-word onto their lawn and killed their dog by throwing poisoned meat into the yard, the newspaper reports.

Music publisher Ivan Mogull tells viewers that Cole's neighbor's "didn't want black people in the neighborhood, and they did everything to make him uncomfortable." Cole's friend Harry Belafonte says of Cole that "nobody wanted him" in the area, the paper reports.


A newspaper clipping shown in the documentary even reported Cole's move with the headline, "Negro to Live in Fashionable Area."

"For us, it was very emotional," singer Natalie Cole, Cole's daughter, told The Independent after watching the documentary.


She noted that racism is still prevalent today. "It is still there, it's very quiet, it's very subtle and it's in so many different fields," she told The Independent. "Even with the election of Barack Obama, I've never seen such outright blatant disrespect. It's still there. We have a way to go."

Read more at The Independent.

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