How integrated is our community, really?  Take a look around the congregation at church this Sunday.  How about the break room at work, or the school lunchroom?    Most people would agree that we’ve come a long way as a society, but we’re not there yet.  Our neighborhoods are still pretty divided, and that’s moved several area groups to hold a dinner and discussion this Tuesday, January 15th in Battle Creek.

Battle Creek Area Association of Realtors CEO Amanda Lankerd, Fair Housing Center of Southwest Michigan Deputy Director Katina Mayes, and Habitat for Humanity
Executive Director Beverly Kelly were Tim Collins’ guests on the 95.3 WBCK Morning Show.   (see the video) They talked about different types of housing discrimination that minorities face, how it’s changed over the years, and also how laws have actually perpetuated housing discrimination.

Lankerd points out that the Fair Housing Act of 1968 turned 50 years old last year.  Even with this important protection, segregation persists nationwide, and in Battle Creek.  In 2016, a fair housing investigation conducted in Battle Creek indicated patterns of difference in treatment of African Americans in the home buying process.  Fair housing training sessions were conducted by the Battle Creek Area Association of Realtors.  Several community conversations were held by the City of Battle Creek to provide an opportunity for those most impacted by the report findings to share their experiences and identify action steps to address housing discrimination and create a fair/equitable housing market.  These conversations, and the desire to reconfirm our commitment to upholding fair housing laws, motivated BCAAR to take a proactive approach by continuing this dialogue and working with community partners to create equitable pathways to home ownership.

Mayes said they receive complaints and investigate.  She says they probably get more complaints in Kalamazoo than in Battle Creek, as Kalamazoo is a larger city.  But she says some of the complaints come as a result of people who don’t intend to discriminate, but do so unknowingly.

As part of that community conversation, Richard Rothstein, author of “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America” will speak on Tuesday.  He’ll talk about defacto vs. dejure segregation and how American cities became so racially divided, as federal, state, and local governments systematically imposed residential segregation.

  • undisguised racial zoning,
  • public housing that purposefully segregated previously mixed communities,
  • subsidies for builders to create whites-only suburbs,
  • tax exemptions for institutions that enforced segregation,
  • official support for violent resistance to African Americans in white neighborhoods,
  • state licensing of real estate brokers whose code prohibited racial mixing,
  • state and federal court orders evicting African Americans who moved to white neighborhoods
  • routing of highways to separate African American and white neighborhoods

Who: The entire community

When: Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Where: Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church located at 636 W. Van Buren Street in Battle Creek

What: A presentation and community conversation with Richard Rothstein, author of “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America”

  • Dinner will be served at 5 p.m.
  • Rothstein’s presentation will begin at 6 p.m. followed by a community conversation at 7 p.m.
  • A book signing will follow. Books will be available for purchase at the event, courtesy of The Mitten Word Bookshop in Marshall, MI.

Cost:  The event is free and open to the public.

  • Childcare will be provided at no charge.
  • Spanish interpretation will also be available.

To RSVP for this community event, visit www.bcaar.com/bcaar-news/ or contact BCAAR at 269.962.5193.  Seating is limited.

Several community organizations have collaborated to make this event possible: Battle Creek Area Habitat for Humanity, Battle Creek Coalition for Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation, City of Battle Creek, Fair Housing Center of Southwest Michigan, Kellogg Community College, Neighborhoods Inc., Voces and Willard Library.  Funding for the project was provided by the collaborative partners listed above, along with BCVision, The Guido A. and Elizabeth H. Binda Foundation and the National Association of REALTORS®.