TEXT ON SCREEN: Has the government done enough to stop housing discrimination?
In the 1960s, at the height of the civil rights movement, Congress banned discrimination in voting and employment. But when it came to housing, congress resisted, even though government policies had helped create segregated neighborhoods.
Senator Walter Mondale held hearings on housing discrimination.
WALTER MONDALE: As a young senator, no one else would touch it. They were afraid of it; so I took it.
We had a witness who was really powerful. He was a young, handsome, Black naval officer, very successful in the Navy and so he was brought down to the Pentagon in a high position there only to find out he couldn’t find housing.
TEXT ON SCREEN: His name was Carlos Campbell.
CARLOS CAMPBELL: All I wanted was a place that was near where I worked. I spent every day, virtually 24/7 a week, looking for housing and I kept getting turned down and turned down and turned down. Thirty-nine places turned me down. Over the telephone you have space. When you get there, they don’t have space.
It was about what was happening to my fellow warriors, and they all had complaints about housing.
WALTER MONDALE: There was obviously a pattern of deliberate discrimination against a young man serving his country and I think that turned a lot of people away from the idea of discrimination.
TEXT ON SCREEN: Six days after Martin Luther King was assassinated, Congress passed the Fair Housing Act. It banned deliberate housing discrimination and said the government was obligated to further fair housing.
Nixon’s housing secretary, George Romney, wanted to use the law to integrate the suburbs. Campbell went to work for Romney.
CARLOS CAMPBELL: He wanted to fight, he wanted to go to the suburbs and he wanted to integrate; and he said you have to solve these issues in the suburbs and the President of the United States, Richard Nixon, was not supportive.
ARCHIVAL (NIXON LIBRARY, 1970):
PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: I believe that forced integration of the suburbs is not in the national interest.
CARLOS CAMPBELL: When you cannot get the support of a president you just have to sort of, like, throw up your hands, how do we – how do we deal with this?
TEXT ON SCREEN: Romney and Campbell resigned.
Since then, the government has rarely used the Fair Housing Act to desegregate neighborhoods it helped segregate in the first place.
CARLOS CAMPBELL: No president campaigns on the basis of affecting integrated housing, desegregating the neighborhoods. Nobody. And it’s a big disappointment to me.
TEXT ON SCREEN: In 2015, the Obama administration said it will do more to enforce the Fair Housing Act…47 years after it was enacted.
WALTER MONDALE: There’s a lot more that needs to be done. We need to get a fresh, updated, clear-eyed vision of what this law means. If we do that, I think this will be a different kind of nation 40 years from now.