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HUD Archives: Statement by Martin Luther King III

Martin Luther King III, President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, today issued the following statement in support of the crackdown on housing discrimination begun by President Clinton and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo:

During Martin Luther King Jr.'s lifetime, housing discrimination was legal, blatant and far too common. African Americans could be told straight out that they weren't good enough to live in certain neighborhoods - and there was nothing they could do about it.

My father spent his life struggling to end this kind of prejudice. He loudly criticized government for failing to do more to end housing discrimination, saying strong federal legislation was needed.

Writing in The Nation Magazine in February, 1961, Martin Luther King Jr. said: "There is hardly any area in which executive leadership is needed more than in housing. Here the Negro confronts the most tragic expression of discrimination; he is consigned to ghettos and overcrowded conditions. And here the North is as guilty as the South. Unfortunately, the federal government has participated directly and indirectly in the perpetuation of housing discrimination."

Fair housing - allowing all people of all backgrounds to be treated equally and to live wherever they can afford - is an important part of my father's dream for an America free of prejudice. The passage of the Fair Housing Act just days after his assassination was an acknowledgment by our government that he was a visionary ahead of his time in calling for passage of this law over the years.

As we commemorate the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s death and pay homage to his legacy and his life-long struggle for equal rights for all humankind, I urge all Americans to carry forward his important work to end housing discrimination. The increased funding President Clinton and Secretary Cuomo are seeking to expand enforcement of this law is needed to enable America to do more than ever before to finally end this terrible and destructive form of prejudice.

Content Archived: January 20, 2009

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