Panels focus on Fair Housing to mark 50th anniversary

Newseum in D.C. and Housing Center in Oak Park to discuss landmark legislation

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

It's been 50 years since Oak Park passed its groundbreaking Fair Housing Ordinance and Congress followed suit with its U.S. Fair Housing Act, and advocates say integration is now more important than ever.

The topic will be featured in forums locally and in Washington, D.C. in April. 

The Atlantic magazine is sponsoring "Building Equity: The Legacy, Impact and Future of the Fair Housing Act" discussion at the Newseum in Washington on Friday, April 20.

The panel includes Oak Park's own Rob Breymaier, executive director of the Oak Park Regional Housing Center, which works to ensure continued integration in the village.

The panel will explore the legacy and current state of the federal Fair Housing Act. 

Atlantic journalists will hold one-on-one interviews with panelists in front of a live audience. In addition to Breymaier, panelists include: 

Sheryll Cashin, Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law, Civil Rights and Social Justice, Georgetown University Law Center

Vanita Gupta, President and CEO, The Leadership Conference

Howard Husock, Vice President, Research and Publications, Manhattan Institute

Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund

Mayor Allison Silberberg, Alexandria, Virginia

Maria Torres-Springer, Commissioner, New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development

Livestreams and other information about the event are available at www.buildingequity.splashthat.com.

Closer to home, the Oak Park Regional Housing Center also will host a free event that will "explore the past, present and future of fair housing, racial integration and inclusion in Oak Park" in the Veterans Room of the Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake St., from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 21.

The event will feature three sessions:

The "Courage" session will explore the difficult decision local leaders were faced with in passing the ordinance. "Back in 1968, village leaders knew that the majority did not support fair housing, so they passed an ordinance and received threats as a result," a housing center press release notes. "The courage of those leaders is one of the reasons Oak Park has become the inclusive, integrated community that it is." Panelists include Housing Center founder Bobbie Raymond; Galen Gockel, a former D97 and village board member; and John Dwyer, a former employee of the village of Oak Park.

The "Perseverance" session includes a presentation on the current status of fair housing in Oak Park, featuring Housing Center Executive Director Rob Breymaier; Cheree Moore of the Oak Park Community Relations Commission; and John Lawrence of the Oak Park Area Association of Realtors.

The "Realization" session aims to envision the future of fair housing in the village. Community members are invited to tell what they want to see.

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

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