A week after the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the landmark Fair Housing Act was signed by President Lyndon Johnson. The act, now 50 years old, outlawed discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex or religion in housing sales, rentals or brokerage services. It was the last of the three great federal civil rights acts passed in the 1960s, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act. Nonetheless, de facto housing segregation in communities in the United States remains prevalent, numerous studies have found.
Marking the occasion of the act signed on April 11, 1968, The National Law Journal asked Ajmel Quereshi, senior counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund Inc., to list five major legal milestones of fair housing in the United States. The organization’s Thurgood Marshall Institute also hosts a retrospective presentation on its website about the history of fair housing law in commemoration of the act’s 50th anniversary.
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