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How Far Have We Come? 50th Anniversary of The Civil Rights Act of 1968 also known as The Fair Housing Act

July 5th, 2018 · No Comments · City Library, Government Documents, Main Branch, News, West Branch

How Far Have We Come?

50th Anniversary of The Civil Rights Act of 1968 also known as The Fair Housing Act

On April 11, The Fair Housing Act turned 50.  This is a great achievement for the United States.  How did the Civil Rights Act of 1968, a.k.a., The Fair Housing Act, come to be?  Well, we need to go back about a century before the Civil Rights Act of 1968, to the Civil Rights Act of 1866.  This Act provided that all citizens should have the same rights “to inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold, and convey real and personal property.” However, the law was never enforced. Instead, such federal agencies actually supported segregated housing until 1962.  Thankfully, President John F. Kennedy stopped this practice.  However, it wasn’t enough, as discrimination still continued, most notably in housing, where anyone of color and others could be turned away from access to housing.  It was also a time of civil protest.



“The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders released a report on racial discrimination and unrest in the United States. President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed an advisory commission in 1967 after a series of riots took place in the ghettos of many of America’s largest cities, including Los AngelesChicago, Newark, and Detroit. The president asked the commission to investigate the cause of the riots, the deeper causes of racial unrest, and potential remedies.” Source:  Add to that the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1968 and continued widespread rioting, and this quickly made The Fair Housing Act a top priority for Congress.

On April 10, Titles VIII and IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, also known as the Fair Housing Act or Open Housing Act were adopted.  The legislation was signed by President Johnson the next day. The law prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin.

So now it’s 2018 and you’d think everything would be ok after this act was signed into law, right?  Not so much.  In a recent NPR interview, former Vice President Walter F. Mondale said the law would be sufficient if it were being enforced.  Mondale was a co-signer of the bill and is also pictured standing over LBJ as he signed the Fair Housing Act, (see first photo above).  There is much more work to be done, but congratulations to the Fair Housing Act on turning 50.  Check out the display in the Rotunda to learn more on the anniversary of The Fair Housing Act or check out the new materials below on housing and segregation:

The fight for fair housing: causes, consequences, and future implications of the 1968 Federal Fair Housing Act

Beginner’s guide to the Fair Housing Act

The color of law: a forgotten history of how our government segregated America

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