February marks the beginning of Black History Month, a time to recognize and celebrate African American accomplishments and history. This Black History Month, LaFHAC is reflecting on the courage and perseverance of freedom fighters of the Chicago Freedom Movement of the 1960s. The Chicago Freedom Movement worked to end discriminatory housing practices and form tenants’ unions to fight back against unaffordable rents and discriminatory landlords. The pressure that this campaign put on lawmakers to change discriminatory housing practices played a major role in passing the Fair Housing Act and ensuring the protections against housing discrimination we have today. The Chicago Freedom Movement focused on housing not only because African Americans were experiencing discrimination and substandard living conditions, but also because housing often dictates access to other resources such as school choice, jobs, access to transportation, and more.
The reality is that even though we now have laws to protect against housing discrimination, African Americans still experience discrimination at alarming rates. Knowing how to talk about these serious issues with young people can sometimes be challenging, which is why we created The Fair Housing Five and the Haunted House. Developed by FHAC staff in collaboration with New Orleans educators, parents and students, The Fair Housing Five is an illustrated children’s book about kids who take action in their neighborhood in response to a landlord who is discriminating. The book is designed to initiate conversations between parents, caregivers, teachers, and children about housing discrimination, systemic inequality, and the important role that we all have in ending both. We hope the book will empower youth to advocate for justice and create positive change in their communities.
Black History Month reminds us to remember the long history of Black freedom fighters and change makers. We encourage you to keep the conversation about civil rights and housing going this Black History Month and all year-round, so that we can not only reflect on the past but also make change for the future.
To purchase your copy of The Fair Housing Five and the Haunted House or to schedule an interactive workshop for your school or youth program please visit our website or contact Elana Cohen at ecohen [at] lafairhousing.org.
If you think you have experienced housing discrimination because of your race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or because you have children, please call the Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center at (877) 445-2100. Help is free and confidential.