Monday, January 17, 2011

Dr King and Fair Housing

Today is a holiday designated to remember Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and his many contributions to our society....not the least of which are laws (Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Fair Housing Law) ensuring that persons of all races have equal access to housing.

It's hard to tell when the Federal Fair Housing Act would have eventually been passed, or in what form, if it weren't for the life and works of Dr. King.  The Act had been bouncing around Congress for a couple of years, unable to get necessary support. 

Then on April 4, 1968 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated.  "President Lyndon Johnson utilized this national tragedy to urge for the speedy Congressional approval [of the Act]".  President Johnson wanted the law enacted prior to Dr. King's funeral, as a tribute to his life.  The Act was finally passed and signed into law on April 11th, 1968, two days after the burial of Dr. King.

The Fair Housing Act (Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act, 1968) expanded the protections provided in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibiting discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of housing based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.  In 1988 the Act was further ammended, adding handicapped and familial status as protected classes. (Most states and many localities also have fair housing laws which identify additional protected classes of persons.)
Have you ever thought about how different our lives are because of these laws?  Would you, your family or friends have been permitted to live where you are today had the Fair Housing Law not been enacted?  Sadly discrimination in housing was everywhere, and it wasn't that long ago.
Our world is a truly different and better place, because of the work of Dr. King.  Take a moment today and pay tribute to his memory and how he has changed the landscape of our lives.
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