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April National Fair Housing Month

April 29, 2013
Estherville Daily News

This might be the last day of April, but we couldn't let it slip by without reminding everyone that this is National Fair Housing Month.

On April 11, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which was meant as a follow-up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 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, which 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.

Everyone recognizes the need for fair housing in America. Right here in Estherville, Mayor Kenny Billings signed a proclamation to that effect.

It's bridging theory and practice, though, that can be difficult.

If you feel you have been discriminated against in renting or buying housing, realize that you are protected by the law.

And people who discriminate against others in providing housing should realize the law is meant for them too - in an enforcement capacity.

It's the law.



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