Opening Acts: June 21, 2018

The Fair Housing Justice Center Kicks Off Building the Beloved Community Initiative


On June 14, 2018, the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC), Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, and the Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing (IAHH) hosted a special, free event in honor of the 50th anniversary of the passage of the federal Fair Housing Act and to kick off the Building the Beloved Community interfaith initiative. The event, called “Building the Beloved Community: A Renewed Call to Action,” brought together civil rights activists, religious leaders and people of faith to both celebrate the gains of the past 50 years and to renew the call to advance fair housing across the New York City region.

As guests entered into the outdoor quad in the center of the UTS campus, they were greeted by signs lining the garden which displayed the 30 Ways to Advance Fair Housing, a list of practical ways that individuals and organizations can advance fair housing in their communities. Inside the Social Hall, guests then walked through an exhibition of photos by fair housing activist and photographer Bernard J. Kleina, beautifully capturing moments from the present day and the Open Housing marches more than 50 years ago. In that same space, we premiered our new Building the Beloved Community – A Renewed Call to Action video, in which civil rights leaders, religious leaders, and people of faith speak about the call to build the beloved community where we live by advancing fair housing. You can view this video here.

During the event, the FHJC also released a comprehensive Fair Housing Toolkit. This toolkit is an educational resource that describes our nation’s history of segregation, current fair housing issues, and fair housing rights. The goal of this toolkit is to empower diverse faith communities to help us build the beloved community by advancing fair housing. To view our toolkit, visit www.bbcfairhousing.org/toolkit.

Representatives of the FHJC, UTS, and IAHH also spoke about this interfaith initiative and the need to engage with this work. Bernard Kleina reflected on the events that led to the passage of the Fair Housing Act and why we need to continue working to fulfill the promise of fair housing laws.

The Rev. Michael Livingston, Senior Executive Minister of The Riverside Church, offered featured remarks for the evening, speaking about the historic injustices of this country, the present inequalities that stem from those injustices, and the need to keep working to build a truly open and welcoming city and country. “What better time for people of faith, across lines of difference, to join together in this work of God, by whatever name,” said Rev. Livingston. “Sign me up as a charter member of the Interfaith Action Network.” FHJC awarded Rev. Livingston an Acting for Justice Award for his contributions to the Building the Beloved Community initiative.

The evening concluded with a rousing performance by the renowned Resistance Revival Chorus, a group of women who come together to sing protest songs in the spirit and collective joy of resistance.

Thank you to all of the sponsors, supporters and attendees who were part of this inspiring night!