Do you have the right to peacefully protests? Indeed you have the right to speak out against your government, the president or any other law or elected official. Those rights come from the US constitution. Americans have faithfully exercised these precious rights throughout history, whether to challenge unjust laws, fight for civil rights, or simply voice an option. Civil disorder is defined by 18 USCS &232 as any public disturbance involving acts of violence by assemblages of three or more persons, which causes an immediate danger of or results in damage or injury to the property or person of any other individual. In responding to why rebellions occurred, the Kerner report pointed to black Americans frustration and feeling of powerlessness regarding extremely high rates of unemployment and underemployment, poverty, police brutality, and inadequate public services. Answering what can be done to prevent this in the future, the commission suggested that the federal government intervene to improve housing, education, employment opportunities and social services for African Americans.
IS 50 YEARS ENOUGH?
Signed into law on April 11, 1968 the Fair Housing Act is vital to ensuring that everyone in America has equal access to housing. The terms of the law inform property owners, home sellers, real estate professionals, renters and buyers that no one can be denied the right to housing on a basis of race, color, religion, family status, disability or national origin. Despite the best intentions of the Fair Housing Act, housing discrimination and segregation still exists. This year commemoration of the Fair housing act first fifty years has raised awareness of the changes that still needs to happen. Black neighborhoods that directly experienced riots were populated with residents that had lower incomes, lower education levels, experienced higher unemployment and had higher incidence of welfare usage than other black neighborhoods that were not directly affected by riots. 50 years after the publication of the kerner report, black neighborhoods in the U.S, still yield examples of success, but given lags in educational attainment, income, wealth, and violent crime exposure which are painful reminders of unrealized individual potential.
THE FIRST STEP IN 1000 MILE JOURNEY
The theme was taken up by Martin Luther King Jr, in 1966 when he came to Chicago in the first explicitly northern campaign in the civil rights movement, the Chicago freedom movement. Over the next several months, king and local activists held non-violent demonstrations outside real estate offices and marched into all-white neighborhoods. The reception they received was often fierce and violent. Chicago mayor Richard J Daley negotiated with Dr. King and other house activist seeking to end the protests and prevent further ruptures. Dr. King’s Chicago Open Housing Movement is often credited with having laid the groundwork for the Fair Housing Act of 1968.
AFRICAN AMERICANS ARE BETTER OF IN MANY WAYS, LET’S SEE HOW
African Americans are much better educated than they were in 1968 but still lag behind whites in overall education attainment. More than 90% of younger African Americans ages 25-29 have graduated from high school, compared with just over half in 1968, there are also more than twice have graduated from college as in 1968. The substantial progress in educational attainment has been accompanied by significant absolute improvement in wages, incomes, wealth and health since 1968. African Americans are 2.5 times as likely to be in poverty as whites, and the median white family has 10 times as much wealth as the median black family.
Since the report publication, the country has certainly seen much progress. Many black American enjoy relatively high social and economic status; over racism and efforts to exclude where they live, work or attend school have greatly diminished.
What can the realtor community do to make fair housing a reality? We must find a way to hit every member, this may be not an easy task but it needs to start somewhere. We need to reach our members and leadership, our association executives, our CEO’s. It all starts with you.