June 19. Freedom Day. Jubilee Day. Cel-Liberation Day. It commemorates the end of slavery when on June 19, 1865, Union general Gordon Granger finally made it to Galveston, Texas to read federal orders from 1861 announcing that all previously enslaved people were free. It is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.
Yes, this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation that became official on Jan. 1, 1863. The Proclamation had little impact on Texas due to the minimal number of Union troops there to enforce the new order. With the surrender of General Lee and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally numerous and strong enough to overcome the resistance.
On this year’s June 19, and with the world focused on equality for all, it is important for us also to talk about housing discrimination and equality in the home buying process. Despite being given the freedom from slavery in 1865, it wasn’t until 1968—52 years ago—that the Fair Housing Act was passed.
The Act, in simplest terms, protects people from housing discrimination when they are renting or buying a home, getting a mortgage, seeking housing assistance, or engaging in other housing-related activities. It prohibits discriminating against someone based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and/or disability.
Housing discrimination can come in two forms—direct and indirect. Direct is purposefully and impermissible basing the sale on a protected class/characteristic. Indirect is unconsciously applying a requirement or rule in the sale or rental of housing.