A Dream not yet realized, but we rise with the Dream still alive in our hearts…
April is set aside as National Fair Housing Month in honor of the anniversary of the passing of the Fair Housing Act and in remembrance of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. This is an important month for African Americans because the pain and disappointment of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King by assassination and the attempts of the FBI and white supremacist to block every protest and to impede any effort by African Americans to improve life in America for themselves is still felt in the hearts and minds of many African Americans today.
Our history is American history, even though many Americans – both black and white – do not want to talk about it because it is not their story or the history they are creating today. Unfortunately, many of these issues still exist today, and it is the story of their forefathers and their history that we must own. This approach to history demonstrates a lack of understanding of the state of African Americans today. We should talk about our history and the laws that were created for and against us and make sure our children understand and never forget what has happened. We can never forget, because things could change.
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (Fair Housing Act), as amended, prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings, and in other housing-related transactions, on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians, pregnant women, and people securing custody of children under the age of 18), and disability.
There are numerous lawsuits pending today regarding direct violations of Title VI. Most will be settled. These laws exist for a reason, and they are still important today. We can never forget why they were necessary and the pain and suffering experienced by communities of color, Native Americans, women, and especially African Americans.
When it comes to mortgage lending, discrimination is still alive and well. Here are three suits (and settlements) that have been filed since January 1, 2017 for violating the Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Acts.
1.) The court entered a consent (settlement) order in United States v. JPMorgan Chase Bank for monetary relief of $53 million, including a civil penalty of $55,000. The complaint had alleged that the defendant charged African American and Hispanic borrowers higher rates and fees for wholesale mortgages than similarly situated white borrowers (https://www.justice.gov/crt/case-document/consent-order-united-states-v-jpmorgan-chase-bank-na-sdny)
2.) The complaint in United States v. KleinBank filed on January 13, 2017 alleged that the defendant structured its residential mortgage lending business in the Minneapolis-St. Paul to avoid serving the credit needs in areas where the residents were predominantly minorities. (https://www.justice.gov/crt/case-document/complaint-united-states-v-kleinbank-dminn)
3.) On January 3, 2017, the court entered a settlement order in United States v. Union Savings Bank and Guardian Savings Bank for redlining majority-black neighborhoods, in Cincinnati, Dayton, and Columbus Ohio as well as in Indianapolis, Indiana. https://www.justice.gov/crt/case-document/consent-order-united-states-v-union-savings-bank-and-guardian-savings-bank-sd-oh-0
We can never forget the men and women of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) strategies and tactics that unified our community to fight for the elimination of the system of Jim Crow segregation and systemic racism in American institutions and in every aspect of everyday life.
We cannot forget how we brought these issues to the world stage with nonviolent protests in the ‘50s and ’60s against public facilities that were segregated by “race” in the South, but were met with extreme police violence and white brutality on every turn. Why? Because we marched or protested. We cannot forget Rosa Parks, an African American woman, who was arrested for refusing to move to the back of the bus in Montgomery, Alabama. We cannot forget the sit-down strikes in Greensborough, North Carolina, or the sit-ins at lunch counters in Jackson, Mississippi. We can never forget the six women, led by Jo Ann Gibson Robinson, who were sick of segregated buses. These women convinced Montgomery’s African Americans to stop using public transportation for almost a year.
We cannot forget the NAACP’s anti-lynching campaign of the 1930s, and the publicity about the causes and costs of lynching. It was commonplace to hang a black man just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was commonplace to see crosses burning and homes of black families burned to the ground just to get them out of town. We cannot forget the NAACP’s legal campaign against segregated education, which culminated in the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown decision. Young black kids were being taught in dilapidated schoolhouses without the basic tools necessary for the teachers or the students.
We cannot forget the Freedom Riders, who rode interstate buses into the segregated southern United States, challenging the local laws that enforced segregation in seating. These Freedom Riders, and the violent reactions they provoked, brought even greater attention to the Civil Rights Movement and the plight of African Americans.
We cannot forget the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King and the pain it brought to our community, the FBI and Edgar Hoover’s attempts to intimidate Dr. King, and the movement that was gaining momentum and brining attention to the apartheid system here in American. We cannot forget the White Supremacy movement and many others that tried everything within their power to dehumanize African Americans, stop the movement for civil rights, diminish and assassinate the reputation of Dr. King, and ultimately tried to silence King’s message of freedom and equality for everyone. But the Dream lives on.
Our forefathers have experienced the humiliation of apartheid in the US, open job discrimination, housing discrimination, credit discrimination, and assault of our personal freedom just for being present and black. Add to all this Jim Crow laws that sought to keep African Americans as less than second class citizens, and you have an oppressed community. Unlike other ethnicities, we had no place to go or the means to get there, so we stayed and endured persecution and the mass incarceration of African American men. The Civil Rights Act and Fair Housing Laws were necessary – and are still necessary – to protect an oppressed people living in a hostile environment. African Americans, despite the hostility, persevered and have learned to thrive in adversity and to succeed even when all odds are against us.
The dream is not yet fully realized, but still we rise. Like a Phoenix from the ashes we rise, reborn out of slavery, poverty, violence, adversity, and Jim Crow/apartheid. Under the constant threat of losing our life, beatings, whippings, and hangings we rise and survive as a people to write about it and to celebrate it. Today we are the great, great, great grandchildren of slaves and African kings and queens who have come before us and whose shoulders we stand on as we mourn the loss of Dr. King, and many others who paid for civil rights with their blood. We celebrate the struggle and the life we now have, borne out of struggle, sweat, tears, blood, and death. We rise.
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Eric Lawrence Frazier, MBA
President and CEO
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Eric Lawrence Frazier, MBA
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