Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Housing Legacy
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Each January, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, our country honors one of the most influential civil rights leaders in our history. As we look back on the countless contributions of Dr. King, his fight for fair housing resonates with Glick’s vision for building community in the places where we operate.
In July of 1966, Dr. King took the stage at Chicago's Soldier Field during a rally for the Chicago Freedom Movement. Before a crowd of over 30,000 supporters, Dr. King spoke about the deplorable living conditions African Americans faced. That same day, Dr. King delivered a list of demands to Chicago’s leaders, calling on local officials and businesses to end discriminatory housing practices, rehabilitate public housing and increase the supply of low-income housing. Just one month later, Chicago city officials and activists reached an agreement with the local housing authority to build more public housing, and the Mortgage Bankers Association agreed to enact certain anti-discrimination rules.
Dr. King’s legacy as a fair housing activist would be enshrined a couple of years later. One week after his assassination in April 1968, President Lyndon Johnson signed Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 – also known as the Fair Housing Act. The Act declared a national policy of fair housing, making any discrimination in the sale, lease or rental of housing illegal, or making housing otherwise unavailable, because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin.
As we reflect on Dr. King's legacy, we should celebrate the many steps taken over the last 55 years, including the millions of low-income families that now have quality, affordable homes in diverse communities. At Glick, we are committed to continue help ensure everyone has a safe place to call.
You can learn more about Dr. King, the Chicago Freedom Movement or the history of the Fair Housing Act, check out these resources:
- The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute, Stanford
- Chapter 28: Chicago Campaign, The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.
- 50 years ago: MLK Jr.'s speech at Soldier Field, march to City Hall with demands for Daley, Chicago Tribune
- History of Fair Housing, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development