Remarks of Secretary Julián Castro 106th NAACP National Convention Pennsylvania Convention Center
1101 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA
July 12, 2015

As prepared for delivery.

Good evening!

Thank you, Vice Chairman Russell, for that very gracious introduction and for your steadfast leadership.

I also want to acknowledge the incredible servant leaders with whom I'm honored to share the stage tonight. That includes Congressman Chaka Fattah and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

And before I go any further I want to thank the stewards of this revered and vital organization for their partnership as we work to make the promise of America real in every citizen's life:

Your President and CEO Cornell William Brooks, and your Chairman Roslyn Brock.

They've been soldiers on the social justice battlefield for decades, and our nation is undoubtedly fairer and stronger because of their courage, their conviction, and their service. Thank you both.

When I think of the NAACP - its leadership and its members - one word in particular comes to mind, and that word is faithful.

When folks are faithful it means they're with you when times are good and when times are tough.

It means they stand firm in the cause of freedom and opportunity in season and out of season.

Usually when an issue of justice or fairness becomes popular, you'll find that the faithful folks were there long before-diligently organizing and campaigning to change hearts and minds, policies and laws.

They don't show up only when the cameras are on or when the mood seems right-no they're there with you in the trenches and far away from the spotlight, day in and day out.

They're the folks you can count on most because they're faithful.

In 2009-to celebrate this great organization's 100th birthday-the Library of Congress created an exhibit titled, "NAACP: A Century in the Fight for Freedom."

It's an incredible display. And one of my favorite items is a poster from 1969, when the NAACP had just turned 60-years-old. And the poster reads, "Here Today, Here Tomorrow." That's what I mean by faithful.

How many of you know that we have a faithful president in the White House?

From his very first day in office, President Obama has been standing with and fighting for the American people-especially for the folks who don't often have a champion to fight on their behalf.

The President has remained committed to doing everything in his power to ensure that there are no asterisks and no fine print on the words "American Dream."

It seems only right that if we call it the American Dream that every American should be able to achieve it.

That's why President Obama has invested in communities-in quality housing, good schools, reliable transit and services, safe streets, stores where folks can buy groceries and banks where they can access credit and capital without paying outrageous fees.

He's also expanded efforts to help more Americans secure homes in neighborhoods that have these important resources already.

And the President has been tireless in his work to strengthen our nation's housing market-to ensure that the market balances opportunity with responsibility and that we're investing in housing for folks at all levels of the income scale.

This kind of opportunity agenda was at the heart of my service as Mayor, and now I have the honor of doing this work on a national scale.

When I was sworn in as HUD Secretary almost one year ago, the President didn't give me any detailed instructions on how to fulfill the vision of greater opportunity in our communities. But he asked that I do one important thing-that I do what's right and what's in the best interests of the people our agency serves.

That might mean criticism, he said-and who knows that better than President Obama-but criticism isn't what endures, character is.

I followed the President's advice early in my tenure when I directed the Federal Housing Administration to cut mortgage insurance premiums, making home loans less expensive and opening the door for more responsible Americans to buy or sell a home.

We received a lot of criticism. Some even said we were paving the way for a second housing market crash.

But it was sound policy and the right thing to do. And today I'm proud to say that our housing market is strong and growing stronger.

In fact, purchases of new homes in the United States rose this past May to the highest level in nine years-providing a boost to our entire economy.

This past week, my team and I followed the President's lead again when we announced new guidelines to fulfill the promise of the Fair Housing Act.

As many of you know, in addition to banning outright discrimination, the Fair Housing Act also requires communities to actively promote equal opportunity and access to housing for all.

It's what's known as "affirmatively furthering fair housing."

For too long, communities either haven't had the tools and guidance to do that, or they haven't been held accountable when they disregarded that responsibility.

These new guidelines will change that. And as you can imagine, we're already receiving intense criticism.

The critics are calling our action "radical," that it will impose racial quotas on communities, and that the President is practicing "social engineering."

Now, first off, the President is a community organizer not a social engineer.

And second, HUD's goal is simple: ensuring that every child, no matter which side of the tracks they're born on or who their parents are, has a fair shot to go as far as their dreams and hard work will take them.

And we've developed a fair and comprehensive process to work with every community in the nation to do just that.

That's what this new rule is about, period.

There are so many people to thank for helping us get this effort over the finish line-including many of the folks here tonight.

Champions for justice like the President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund Sherrilyn Ifill, and the Director of the NAACP's Washington Bureau Hilary Shelton.

Both organizations were also instrumental in helping HUD achieve a major victory in the Supreme Court a little over two weeks ago when the Court ruled that our laws prohibit discriminatory housing policies, whether they're intentional or not.

It was a landmark decision that affirmed HUD's work to eliminate the unfair barriers that have deferred and derailed the dreams of too many Americans.

But as exciting as these steps forward are, they mean that we'll have to work even harder to push ahead and continue to expand the promise of opportunity to more Americans.

We know that from past experience. And we can hear history's echoes in the criticism of those who want to reverse so much of the progress that our nation has achieved these last six years.

But I want you to know, NAACP, that no matter how difficult the road ahead may seem that I'm encouraged.

I'm encouraged because this organization has maintained a commitment to equality and justice for 106 years.

I'm encouraged because you were there for our nation when President Lyndon Johnson created HUD some 50 years ago.

I'm encouraged because you were there when the Fair Housing Act became law in 1968.

I'm encouraged because you've remained on the frontlines fighting for greater fairness so that where a child grows up doesn't dictate where they end up.

And I'm encouraged because you're here today-because you continue to be faithful-and I know that you'll be here fighting on behalf of the American people tomorrow and for all the tomorrows to come.

Thank you so much, and have a great convention.


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