Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Impact on Fair Housing in the United States

Last updated Feb 5, 2018 | Published on Jan 8, 2018

Since 1986, the birth date of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has been observed as a federal holiday by the federal government. According to the King Center, “The King holiday is celebrated in U.S. installations and is observed by local groups in more than 100 other nations. The King Holiday should highlight remembrance and celebration and should encourage people everywhere to reflect on the principles of nonviolent social change and racial equality as espoused by Martin Luther King, Jr. It should be a day of community and humanitarian service, and interracial cooperation.[1]

Dr. King’s legacy also has ties to the U.S. Fair Housing Act of 1968. The following is an excerpt that chronicles the impact of the assassination of Dr. King on the eventual passage of the Housing Act.

The 1968 act expanded on previous acts and prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin, sex, (and as amended) handicap and family status. Title VIII of the Act is also known as the Fair Housing Act (of 1968).

 

The enactment of the federal Fair Housing Act on April 11, 1968 came only after a long and difficult journey. From 1966-1967, Congress regularly considered the fair housing bill, but failed to garner a strong enough majority for its passage. However, when the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson utilized this national tragedy to urge for the bill’s speedy Congressional approval. Since the 1966 open housing marches in Chicago, Dr. King’s name had been closely associated with the fair housing legislation. President Johnson viewed the Act as a fitting memorial to the man’s life work, and wished to have the Act passed prior to Dr. King’s funeral in Atlanta.

 

With the cities rioting after Dr. King’s assassination, and destruction mounting in every part of the United States, the words of President Johnson and Congressional leaders rang the Bell of Reason for the House of Representatives, who subsequently passed the Fair Housing Act. Without debate, the Senate followed the House in its passage of the Act, which President Johnson then signed into law.[2]

Econometrica observes the King Holiday and is proud to support federal, state, and local projects that celebrate and acknowledge his legacy, including efforts related to fair housing. To learn more about the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, please visit their website https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp.

[1] http://www.thekingcenter.org/making-king-holiday

[2] https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/aboutfheo/history

Econometrica observes the King Holiday and is proud to support federal, state, and local projects that celebrate and acknowledge his legacy, including efforts related to fair housing.

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