Black history is more than just an annual month-long celebration. Instead, it is a history that is rich in stories and experiences — both positive and negative — that can teach us many lessons that are still very much applicable today.
From the horrors of slavery and racial oppression to the triumphs of civil rights and historic achievements and inventions, Black history offers a wealth of knowledge and insight into the human experience — and especially, what it means to take up space in the world as a Black person.
To learn more about how the past can map out our future as it relates to homeownership, here are five Black history lessons that are important for homeowners to know today:
The Importance of Ownership
Years ago, former slaves were promised “40 acres and a mule” as a form of repayment for slavery. Unfortunately, the promise never came to fruition. But as history shows, that did not stop them from continuing on in their fight to owning land and property.
This is because throughout history — and especially Black history — owning property was a symbol of economic stability. It provided a foundation and a launching pad for future generations to build and maintain wealth within the community.
The Black community of yesteryear fought long and hard for the right to own property. For this reason, Black people should take heed in recognizing the significance of homeownership and work towards achieving it.
The Impact of Policy
Another Black history lesson that we can take heed of is how great of an impact policy has on homeownership for Black Americans. Housing policies and government programs have always had a heavy role in shaping the homeownership landscape for Black people.
For example, the 1934 National Housing Act paved the way for the Federal Housing Administration, which allowed for loans to be made available at more lenient terms. This spelled major progress because it enabled Black families to buy homes and build generational wealth.
Later in 1968, Congress passed the Fair Housing Act, which prohibited discrimination in the sale or rental of housing based on race, sex, religion, or national origin. This helped protect Black people from discriminatory practices that had been preventing many from purchasing a home.
Both landmark pieces of legislation are a testament to the progress made by previous generations to ensure fair and equal access to homeownership for all American citizens. And even though there are many boundaries yet to overcome, Black homeowners can take hold of the baton by familiarizing themselves with laws and policies set in place today.
Throughout American history, members of the Black community faced a great number of barriers when it came to homeownership. This included redlining, discriminatory lending practices, and even the refusal of home mortgages by banks. And unfortunately, many of the same barriers exist today.
The problem extends to renters as well, as the lack of access to affordable housing was and continues to be another barrier that Black people face. Still, in spite of such challenges, the Black community has been resilient in pursuing homeownership opportunities. Black homeowners today should learn from the perseverance of their ancestors and continue to fight for equal access to homeownership.
The Building Blocks for a Strong Community
The building up of community is critical for Black Americans. Providing support, encouragement, and a sense of belonging are important for creating and maintaining a strong community.
When Black people come together, share resources, and support each other, communities can develop a collective identity, creating a sense of pride and empowerment and promoting social cohesion.
Community is especially important when it comes to homeownership because it allows residents to work together to maintain and improve their neighborhoods, ensuring that they are safe, healthy, and sustainable. Community also plays a powerful role in advocating for policy changes that benefit members, such as access to affordable housing, fair lending practices, and zoning regulations that promote equity.
A Form of Activism
Historically, homeownership has been a form of activism for members of the Black community. It provides a vehicle for challenging the social and economic inequalities that disproportionately affect Black Americans.
Owning land and property promotes a sense of independence and self-sufficiency, allowing the Black community to assert their rights and stake their claim in society.
Plus, collective ownership provides a platform for Black Americans organize and mobilize to advocate for social, political, and economic change.
Black homeowners of today can continue this legacy by continually fighting against the strong arm of racial discrimination by advocating for policies that promote equality and using their property values to support local initiatives that further the community.
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by Arielle Clay | January 19, 2023
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