Our Historic Gift

From the Editor: The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® reached an important milestone with the donation of $1 million to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Foundation.

April 1, 2007

For much of my professional life, I’ve worked to strengthen REALTORS®’ commitment to equal housing opportunity. So I felt deeply privileged recently to participate in an important milestone for the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®: the donation of $1 million to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Foundation. The foundation was established to raise funds for a memorial to Dr. King, to be built on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

The life of the civil rights leader is linked to the history of our organization. After all, it was the goal of equal housing opportunity that led Dr. King to move to Chicago — NAR’s headquarters city — in the summer of 1966. There, he engaged in a series of marches, appealing to the real estate practitioners of the city to end discriminatory housing practices. His call for open housing led to the 1968 passage of the Fair Housing Act.

For many years after the passage of the law, real estate practitioners were criticized — sometimes with cause — as foes of equal housing opportunity. From the beginning of my real estate career in 1971, however, what I experienced was an association committed to working proactively to educate its members about the law.

n 1975, NAR moved beyond education, signing an affirmative marketing agreement with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that, among other things, encouraged its members to commit to fair housing practices and display the equal housing opportunity logo in their offices.

My involvement with fair housing began in the 1980s when I joined my local association’s equal opportunity committee. We launched a self-testing program to help members recognize bias in their own behavior toward prospects.

Today, together with HUD and the fair housing community, NAR celebrates Fair Housing Month each April. Through our “At Home with Diversity” training, we’re making strides toward greater diversity within the profession. And, along with our five HOPE Awards partners, NAR is helping to close the homeownership gap that exists between whites and minorities.

This May 15, we’ll award our fourth round of HOPE Awards to individuals and organizations that are lowering barriers to minority home buying.

Forty-four years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Dr. King’s dream hasn’t been fully realized. But his memorial will serve as an ever-present reminder to us about the importance of the American dream for all people. Let’s continue our work to strengthen America's fair housing laws, improve access to affordable housing, and increase diversity in our business.

These efforts will serve not just people of color but every one of us. As Dr. King said, our destiny truly is tied together. “We cannot walk alone.”

The King Memorial is scheduled to be completed in 2008, and NAR will be represented as a major donor, along with such companies as DuPont, FedEx, and GE, among others. When our children and grandchildren visit the memorial, it will be with the knowledge that REALTORS® embrace the message — and the mission — of Dr. King.

Stacey Moncrieff

Stacey is director of content strategy for the National Association of REALTORS® and editor-in-chief of REALTOR® Magazine. In addition, she oversees the quarterly REALTOR® Association Executive magazine and manages a variety of e-communications for REALTORS® and REALTOR® association executives. She has been with the NAR for more 30 years, starting as an associate editor with Real Estate Today magazine, where she covered sales and finance topics.