April 11 - Civil Rights Bill Signed!

Posted on April 11, 2017

On this date in 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act into law.

This followed years of effort and protests and demands by those who faced discrimination, especially by black Americans.


It's sad, but true: historically, people have needed the force of law to make society a bit fairer - not quite completely fair, yet, not completely just, but more fair and just than before civil rights bills were passed. 

Today's historical anniversary was a bill designed to stop (or at least lessen) discrimination in housing. It made it a federal crime to, by force or threat of force, injure, intimidate, or interfere with anyone's equal housing opportunities on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin.

Since 1968, housing discrimination on the basis of sex is also not allowed, and people with disabilities and families with children are also protected by subsequent additions.

Here are some forms of discrimination that are outlawed:

This is the kind of thing the Fair Housing Act
makes illegal!
You cannot refuse to sell or rent a house or apartment because of someone's race (etc.).

You cannot do shenanigans like jacking up the price for people of color, or favoring white folks with better terms.

You cannot indicate in an ad that you prefer a renters or buyers of a particular race (etc.).

You cannot intimidate potential buyers or renters, so that they will back out of the deal, on the basis of race (etc.).

If people feel that they are facing discrimination, they are encouraged to seek help in fixing the situation, either by complaining to the federal government or by starting a lawsuit.

Of course, there are all sorts of subtle ways in which discrimination still happens, including realtors only giving people of color information on houses and apartments in particular areas or casually steering them only to particular areas. We need more education in social justice, and we need strong enforcement of laws like the Fair Housing Act.

Here is an article with pretty clear writing about 10 important aspects of fair housing. This article doesn't discuss all the complexities of housing discrimination, of course, but it is a basic overview.

Also on this date:


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