If you’re a real estate professional, the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. has a daily impact on your career. We all know that in his life, Martin Luther King, Jr. was an activist and a leader of the American civil rights movement. He led the Montgomery Bus Boycott and helped lead the 1963 March on Washington. During the March on Washington, King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech, in which he called for a color blind America, where citizens are treated equally regardless of the color of their skin.
When he was assassinated on April 4, 1968, King’s fight to end segregation and racial discrimination ended too soon. Yet from King’s death, one of the nation’s greatest civil rights laws was born: the federal Fair Housing Act (Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act).
In the years before King’s assassination, Congress had considered the Fair Housing Act several times. Each time, the Act failed to garner enough support to guarantee passage. After King was assassinated, however, President Lyndon B. Johnson took advantage of the nation’s outpouring of grief and anger to spur Congress into passing the legislation. President Johnson thought the bill’s passage would honor King’s memory as well as his work, and so it was finally enacted on April 11, 1968, just a week after King’s death.
Thanks in part to King’s legacy, the Federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, handicap, or familial status (families with minor children) in the sale or lease of residential property or vacant land intended to be used for residential purposes. In addition, the act prohibits discrimination in advertising, lending, real estate brokerage, and certain other services in connection with residential transactions.
We should all take a moment on Monday to think about how we can help foster the spirit of equal access to housing. And if you have any other real estate training questions, Rockwell Institute is here to help.