“For generations of white American families, homeownership has been a fundamental means of accumulating wealth. Their homes have grown in value over time, providing security in retirement and serving as an asset against which they can borrow for education or other purposes.
But African-Americans were essentially shut out of early federal programs that promoted homeownership and financial well-being — including the all-important New Deal mortgage insurance system that generated the mid-20th-century homeownership boom. This missed opportunity to amass wealth that white Americans took for granted is evident to this day in a yawning black-white wealth gap and in worse health, living conditions and educational opportunities for African-Americans.
The Fair Housing Act, which turned 50 years old last week, ended the most egregious forms of discrimination and brought a modest rise in black homeownership. But those gains — and the hard-won wealth they represented — were wiped out a decade ago in the Great Recession, which reduced the African-American homeownership rate to levels not seen since housing discrimination was legal in the 1960s.”
This editorial gets three stars out of three from me. The good news is we are leaving plenty of low hanging fruit for our children and their generation to fix up and improve upon.
“Fifty years ago on April 11, Congress enacted the Fair Housing Act, the last of the three great civil rights laws of the 1960s. Along with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act, it was an attempt by Congress to translate the movement led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others into enduring statute. But it also has the more dubious distinction of being the most contested, most ignored and, at times, most misunderstood of those laws.
For most of the 20th century, an array of forces worked to divide American communities into black and white quarters. Some involved explicit discrimination, including racial redlining in federal mortgage insurance, and real estate covenants that restricted home buyers by race. But some were more subtle, like the steering by real estate agents of racial minorities into certain neighborhoods, biased lending and underwriting, and the concentration of low-income housing in low-income neighborhoods.”
“Equal Pay Day — the day up to which the typical woman must work in a particular year to catch up with what the average man earned the previous year — always brings back a rush of memories. Not surprisingly, many of them I’d rather forget: the pit in my stomach, for example, that developed when I read the anonymous note left in my mailbox that told me I was being paid a fraction of what other, male supervisors at Goodyear were making. And when the Supreme Court denied me justice in my pay discrimination case.(Some of them are happier memories, like when President Barack Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to ensure other women would not receive the same treatment.)
But this year, Equal Pay Day, which falls on April 10, has brought back a whole different set of memories:
“You’re going to be my next woman at Goodyear.”“Oh, you didn’t wear your bra today.”
“If you don’t go to bed with me, you won’t have a job.”
Those words, spoken to me by one of my supervisors many years ago, still crawl through my ears and down my spine. I remember my fear, both for my personal safety and because if I lost my job, I didn’t know how I would pay my kids’ college tuition, our mortgage and other bills. I remember how that fear led me to keep a phone number for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission tucked in my pocket at all times, in case I needed legal help.”
“You can read his final speech, delivered in Memphis the night before his death, or you can listen to it. Don’t settle for the usual quick outtakes. The famous lines — like “I’ve been to the mountaintop” — aren’t the only worthwhile ones.
“Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination,” King said. “And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge, to make America what it ought to be.”
Another option: If you haven’t yet read Taylor Branch’s great book, “Parting the Waters,” you can start it. It remains one of my 10 favorite books, on any subject.You can also watch the new HBO documentary that Branch created along with Trey Ellis, Jackie Glover and others. (If you don’t have HBO, you’ll need to wait a bit.) “For thirty years, I have been trying and failing to help move authentic civil rights history to film,” Branch tweeted last weekend. “It’s not the familiar, ‘sanitized’ MLK.”
You can also read the collection of Op-Eds that The Times has published in recent days, by Wendi Thomas and others. We’ve linked to each of those pieces in Related Coverage below. If you have questions for Jesse Jackson, who wrote one of the pieces, leave them in the Comments section of his article; he will be replying to some of them in coming days.”
“As the nation prepares to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we should dwell not merely on how Dr. King died but also on how he lived.
He mobilized mass action to win a public accommodations bill and the right to vote. He led the Montgomery bus boycott and navigated police terror in Birmingham. He got us over the bloodstained bridge in Selma and survived the rocks and bottles and hatred in Chicago. He globalized our struggle to end the war in Vietnam.
How he lived is why he died.”
The Rev. Jesse Jackson ends this lovely op-ed:
“Dr. King bequeathed African-Americans the will to resist and the right to vote. Yet while we were marching and winning, the powers of reaction were regrouping, preparing a counterrevolution. Five decades ago, a segregationist governor, George Wallace, peddled hate and division in reaction to the civil rights movement. Today, it is the president himself who is inciting anguish, bigotry and fear.
We are in a battle for the soul of America, and it’s not enough to admire Dr. King. To admire him is to reduce him to a mere celebrity. It requires no commitment, no action. Those who value justice and equality must have the will and courage to follow him. They must be ready to sacrifice.
The struggle continues.”
“Over the past six months, Americans have come to understand the galling ubiquity of sexual misconduct and how such misdeeds are too often swept under the rug. Now some of the most powerful women in the United States are saying they’ve waited long enough to address these issues at their own workplace.
All 22 female members of the Senate, Republicans and Democrats, are demanding the chamber’s leadership stop stonewalling an overhaul of Congress’s byzantine method of handling complaints of sexual harassment against members of Congress and their staffs under the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995.”
“In the 1870s, the woman’s suffrage movement claimed the right to vote by citing the new 14th Amendment’s promise that no state “shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.”
Their opponents didn’t see it that way. “Citizenship no more carries the right to vote than it carries the power to fly to the moon,” The Rochester Union and Advertiser scoffed in an 1872 editorial.But suffragists insisted. The right to vote, they argued, cannot be carved away from citizenship. “Is the right to vote one of the privileges or immunities of citizens?” Susan B. Anthony asked in an 1873 speech. Her answer: “It is not only one of them, but the one without which all the others are nothing.”
Anthony’s call remains unfulfilled today, as suppressive voting rules in nearly every state deny many Americans their voting rights. Six million otherwise eligible individuals are stripped of the right to vote because of a felony conviction, removing them from a key arena of public life.But Anthony’s words are a reminder that the right to vote is a bedrock of our ability to govern ourselves democratically. While citizenship need not be a necessary condition for enfranchisement — for example, San Francisco has enabled noncitizens to vote in school board elections — it should be a sufficient one.”
“SAN JUAN COUNTY, Utah — In this county of desert and sagebrush, Wilfred Jones has spent a lifetime angered by what his people are missing. Running water, for one. Electricity, for another. But worst of all, in his view, is that the Navajo people here lack adequate political representation.
So Mr. Jones sued, and in late December, after a federal judge ruled that San Juan County’s longtime practice of packing Navajo voters into one voting district violated the United States Constitution, the county was ordered to draw new district lines for local elections.The move could allow Navajo people to win two of three county commission seats for the first time, overturning more than a century of political domination by white residents. And the shift here is part of an escalating battle over Native American enfranchisement, one that comes amid a larger wave of voting rights movements spreading across the country.“It’s a historic moment for us,” said Mr. Jones, during a drive on the county’s roller coaster dirt roads. “We look at what happened with the Deep South,” he went on, “how they accomplished what they have. We can do the same thing.” ”
Bravo. Here is a comment I endorse:
DW In the shadow of Monticello 38 minutes ago
it’s about time that the Native American citizens have an equal opportunity to have a proportional vote and to equalize the use of government resources (i.e., tax income) for all – not just for those who control the boundaries of voting districts in their favor.
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“Is there a constitutional right to discriminate? That should be an easy “no.” But in President Trump’s America, that question will be argued in the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
The case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, involves Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig, whom I have represented since 2015. They were planning their wedding in 2012, and one of the details they were excited about was the cake. Mr. Craig’s mother, Debbie Munn, was set to visit them that summer, so they decided to wait for her to choose it.”
DL: Keep reading, it gets better.