By Robert Freedman, Senior Editor, REALTOR® Magazine
The dignitaries and media that were in Washington last weekend for the dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr., memorial on the National Mall have packed up and gone home.
The memorial was designed to be thought-provoking, with its 30-foot high rendering of the slain civil rights leader emerging from a block of solid rock that itself emerges from a rock wall behind it. On the rendering of the rock is the inscription, “Out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.”
It’s easy to forget the struggles of our friends, neighbors, coworkers, classmates, and everyone else who fought to be treated equally under the law, both in its spirit and to its letter. About 20 years ago, one of our NAR members, a broker who’s been selling real estate for some 25 years, faced a home seller who refused to let her show his home because she was a minority. It’s a sad commentary on how things were, but it’s also an uplifting commentary, because once the listing agent heard how his fellow real estate professional had been treated, he immediately cancelled his listing with the seller. One small stone of hope in a mountain of despair.
Today, instances of discrimination are more subtle but still just as real, which is why the Martin Luther King memorial is as much a living reminder of the work that still needs to be done as it is a tribute to the work of Dr. King.
Of course, real estate has been on the front lines of the civil rights struggle, which is why fair housing is a core part of our civil rights laws (it’s Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968). So, It’s gratifying that REALTORS® played an important role in making the King memorial a reality. Not only are REALTORS® donors, both as individuals and as members of their national association, but REALTORS® are represented on the memorial foundation’s leadership cabinet, so they’ll have a role in advising the foundation going forward.
In the four-minute video above, NAR leaders who worked with the foundation to help make the memorial a reality talk about the association’s role and about REALTORS®’ ongoing efforts to further the goal of fair housing.