An issue in America’s largest cities to its smallest towns, decent and available housing for African Americans was scarce. While housing issues were certainly tied to other problems, such as good jobs and economic opportunity, blatant discrimination was the primary factor that spurred Dr. King’s work.
One of the largest demonstrations that addressed decent housing was the Chicago Freedom Movement. This campaign, which began in 1966, directly challenged the unfair housing regulations that denied African Americans access to live where they wanted. Housing industry specialists from loan officers to landlords contributed to this widespread issue, rejecting African Americans who sought to buy or rent a home.
Especially in Chicago, African Americans were shut out of nicer housing developments and, as a result, were forced to live in the city's dilapidated slums. The Chicago Freedom Movement was a series of marches, protests, and some riots that argued for open housing in the city.
There was much unrest in the city over the Movement and, ultimately, the mayor of Chicago intervened to make a compromise with Dr. King. As a result, laws were put in place that kept banks from denying loans based on racial discrimination, and housing projects were put into effect to house African Americans seeking a better location and place to call home.
Fair Housing Legacy
Dr. King continued fighting for decent housing in cities across America, continually working with President Johnson to create sweeping, national legislation for the issue. After many failed attempts to add fair housing into legislation, President Johnson was able to make this important change, following Dr. King’s sudden death.
As part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, President Johnson was able to pass Title VIII of the Act, known as the Fair Housing Act. The passage of this act was a bipartisan tribute to the late Dr. King, acknowledging his tireless efforts in improving the housing sector for all.