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Civil Rights and Race Relations in America and Their Impact on the Lives of African Americans
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Tuesday, December 9, 2008
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
That “inescapable network of mutuality” described by Martin Luther King, Jr. begins in our communities. Where we live shapes our lives, our interactions with others, our work life, our health, and our education. Each of us has a role to play in creating communities that are welcoming, safe, and open to all.
Today, this goal is more important than ever because the nation is becoming increasingly diverse. Currently, African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans and Native Americans make up more than 30 percent of our population. In a few decades, those groups are projected to represent a majority of U.S. residents. These groups represent our future workers, the people whose skills and talents must be harnessed to ensure the nation’s economic viability.
Forty years ago, Congress passed Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (the “Fair Housing Act”), which prohibits discrimination in public and private housing markets that is based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, or familial status. The Act requires communities and the federal government to proactively further fair housing residential integration, and equal opportunity goals; however, equal opportunity in housing remains a major challenge, with collateral impact far beyond four walls and a roof.