MLK, Housing, and Civil Rights

23 Jan

cc-by-tychayWe are here today because we are tired. We are tired of being seared in the flames of withering injustice. We are tired of paying more for less. We are tired of living in rat-infested slums and in the Chicago Housing Authority’s cement reservations.

–Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this week, one aspect of his legacy that has sometimes been overshadowed was his advocacy for affordable housing. But as Terri Ludwig points out, ending discrimination in housing and ensuring decent, low-cost housing for all was inseparable from Dr. King’s overall mission.

Terri is president and CEO of Enterprise Community Partners, Inc., a national nonprofit that provides capital and knowledge to create affordable homes. In “MLK’s Housing Legacy,” she writes, his July 1966 speech at the Chicago Freedom Movement launched a housing movement in the city that quickly gained results:

In August 1966, activists and city officials reached a “summit agreement,” through which the local housing authority promised to build more public housing and the Mortgage Bankers Association agreed to enact certain anti-discrimination rules. … After signing the Chicago summit agreement, Dr. King called it “the first step in a thousand-mile journey.”

Ultimately, Dr. King’s efforts would culminate in the signing of Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 — the Fair Housing Act, banning discrimination in home sales and rentals. In signing the law, President Lyndon Johnson credited Dr. King’s vision and advocacy for contributing to its passage – which, sadly, happened a week after his tragic death.

You can read the full article on the Huffington Post.

Photo: cc by tychay

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