They Never Said They Were Sorry

by Kimberly Perette

My friend P and I had a horrible fight last night as we sat drinking together around the fire pit in my back yard. My partner was involved, but we have had these gigantic rows for years now. P’s wife was involved, but she and I are on the same page.

We are all neighbors and friends. We both live in exquisite victorian homes in an old Italian neighborhood called Valona. A neighborhood, I might add, that I wouldn’t have been able to live in just a mere 50 years ago. But thanks to the Fair Housing Act which was passed in 1968  as a response to over 100 years of housing segregation and redlining in mortgage practices I can live here. I enjoy this privilege as a result of the blood sweat and tears of my ancestors because in 1968 black people had had it and were tearing the house down. They were on the move and rioting in the streets. They had been pushed over the edge by the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.  So, Lyndon B. Johnson finally signed The Fair Housing Act into law a mere 4 days after King’s assassination. Despite Supreme Court decisions such as Shelley v. Kraemer (1948) and Jones v. Mayer Co. (1968), which outlawed the exclusion of African Americans or other minorities from certain sections of cities, race-based housing patterns were still in force by the late 1960s. Those who challenged them often met with resistance, hostility, and even violence. Yet it took us screaming in the streets that Black Lives Mattered for it finally to be acted upon.