While most people are aware of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a Civil Rights Movement leader, fewer are familiar with the role he played in the fair housing movement. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought for human rights for minority communities, Black Americans were systematically deprived equal housing options because they were routinely and openly excluded from living in certain areas. Discrimination, intimidation, exclusion and even violence segregated and Black Americans to low-income areas with poor quality housing.
In the 1960’s Congress debated for years over contentious housing legislation that sought to prevent discrimination against people of color in the U.S. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in public accommodations. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 strengthened voting rights for people of color and the desegregation of schools. However, housing discrimination remained unaddressed.
In Dr. King’s “The Other America” speech at Stanford University in 1967, he spoke of the need for federal fair housing legislation to prevent discrimination and to help bring Black and white Americans together, including where we live. It wasn’t until after Dr. King’s assassination that the Fair Housing Act passed. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 expanded on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination concerning the sale, rental and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin, sex, handicap, and family status.
Work continues in our country and in our communities to embrace inclusive and diverse communities and to demand fair and equitable housing options for All Americans. On January 20, 2021 President Joe Biden expanded Civil Rights further by signing Executive Order 13988 on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation. In the executive action, President Biden stated, “Every person should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear, no matter who they are or whom they love. It is the policy of my administration to prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, and to fully enforce Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and other laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.”
On this day and every day, CAI reaffirms unwavering support of the Fair Housing Act for all regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, gender identify, or sexual orientation. CAI continues to pursue state legislation that provides a simple process for community associations to amend covenants to remove discriminatory, antiquated, and illegal restriction.
Further, CAI recognizes we all must remain diligent to overcome discrimination. In our community associations, we must adopt and practice behaviors that eliminate bias and inequality and then we must educate ourselves on how to adopt and practice those behaviors in our communities. By being deliberate with these behaviors, we will have the tools necessary to shape minds and refine character to serve as role models for their communities in the pursuit of equality. CAI encourages community associations to adopt, promote, and commit to the behaviors outlined in the CAI Equality Pledge.