Senate Democrats

Reid: Statement For 40th Anniversary Of Civil Rights Act Of 1968

Senate Democrats Remain Committed to Fair Housing for All Americans

Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid today issued the following statement to mark the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1968: 

“Today marks the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.  Also known as the Fair Housing Act of 1968, it was signed by President Lyndon Johnson seven days after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Americans can take this opportunity to reflect upon the legacy of Dr. King’s call to social justice and equality in all walks of life.

“The Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibits discrimination against any person because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.  After the act, neighborhoods could no longer be designated ‘whites only’ and restrictive racial covenants were outlawed.  All Americans were given equal rights to the sale, rent, lease, and finance of their home in all housing markets.  Senate Democrats are committed to safeguarding those rights. 

“We are also fighting to preserve the middle class and to open its doors to more Americans.  We know that homeownership is the way that most Americans build wealth.  Unfortunately, fewer than 48 percent of African-American families own a home compared with more than 76 percent of white families.  That gap simply means that it is harder for African-American families to enter the middle class and remain there.  Other groups, too, continue to face challenges with housing.

“In 2007 more than 10,000 complaints of discrimination were filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Forty-three percent of the complaints charged discrimination against people with disabilities.  Yes, we have come very far in creating fair housing opportunity for all Americans; yet, we have more work to do.

“Right now we know that too many Americans are hurting.  The foreclosure crisis has put them in fear of losing their homes.  African-Americans are being hit particularly hard by this crisis because they are four times more likely to have received a sub-prime mortgage than white homebuyers.  Democrats are committed to addressing the housing crisis and to helping families threatened with foreclosure stay in their homes.  It is the right thing to do for struggling homeowners and to keep communities afloat. 

“To that end, yesterday the United States Senate passed legislation that will help lift struggling homeowners, neighborhoods, and our nation’s economy.  The Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008 is not perfect but it is an important step to secure the largest investment that most Americans will ever make- their homes. 

“On this day, the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, let us reflect on the successes of our past and work towards a more equitable future for all of our neighbors who seek to live the American dream.”