Change is hard. No big changes to the way people think in this life come without struggle.
In the 1960′s, when I was but a lad, those around me told me that the Reverend King was a “troublemaker,” and that only rioting and unrest followed him around. Everywhere he spoke, nothing but trouble. That was my earliest impression of Martin Luther King, from the comfortable confines of my suburban childhood.
Today we sometimes take Fair Housing laws for granted. This is from Wikipedia.
In the United States, the fair housing (also open housing) policies date largely from the 1960s. Originally, the terms fair housing and open housing came from a political movement of the time to outlaw discrimination in the rental or purchase of homes and a broad range of other housing-related transactions, such as advertising, mortgage lending, homeowner’s insurance and zoning. Later, the same language was used in laws. In April 1968, at the urging of President Lyndon Baines Johnson, Congress passed the federal Fair Housing Act, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, only one week after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
And, apparently the Reverend King was indeed a troublemaker. Below from Wikipedia, he surely made trouble for this group:
“In 1963, California Legislature passed the Rumford Fair Housing Act which outlawed restrictive covenants and the refusal to rent sell on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, marital status, or physical disability.
In reaction to the law, a well-funded coalition of realtors and landlords was determined to protect white neighborhoods and property values. They immediately began to campaign for a referendum that would amend the state Constitution to protect property owners’ ability to deny minorities equal access to housing. Known as Proposition 14, it was passed by 65 percent of the voters.
In 1966, the California State Supreme Court, in Mulkey v. Reitman, ruled that Proposition 14 violated the State Constitution’s provisions for equal protection and due process.
In 1967, in Reitman v. Mulkey, the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed the decision of the California Supreme Court and ruled that Proposition 14 had violated the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution.”
Sad to see Realtors written into the encyclopedia on the wrong side of history. This year, I was elected as a Director at the local Shasta Association of Realtors. I pledge to work to make sure that Realtors remain on the right side of the good fights.
At the Association’s new agent orientation training in 2009, I pointed at all the new people, and told them that the Fair Housing Laws were enacted to protect ordinary people from Realtors, among others. “That’s you.” They looked surprised to hear that, but it’s the truth. Fair Housing principles are not just the right thing to do, they are the law. These precepts had to be made into law, because change is hard.
And I need to point out that The Shasta Association of Realtors currently donates money to the Legal Services of Northern California organization to promote Fair Housing with seminars and workshops for tenants and landlords. Cathy Farrel of LSNC reports that complaints about Fair Housing have been much reduced since the programs have been initiated. Thank you, Shasta Association of Realtors.
We are working today, but reflective on the life of the Reverend Martin Luther King and the ongoing struggle he has come to represent. May we all be such troublemakers.