It’s no secret that Chicago, one of the most segregated cities in the nation, has an ugly history of housing discrimination. Before the federal Fair Housing Act passed in April 1968 — 50 years ago — people of color were frequently, and flagrantly, prohibited from renting, buying or financing homes in areas where the population was mostly white.
Right before the act’s passage, some black Chicagoans found homes, and refuge, in a housing cooperative on the city’s South Side. Griffin moved into London Towne Houses Cooperative, in the Pullman community area, in 1967.
JoAnn Kenner, 73, current president of London Towne Houses, also has lived in the community since ’67. In the years before fair housing laws, the mentality around integrated communities, Kenner said, was as in the play “A Raisin in the Sun” — “Even if you were able to get a mortgage” and someone would sell you a house, if you were nonwhite, “the neighborhood was not going to be welcoming.”
London was “like a breath of fresh air, it was like living in the suburbs,” she said. “Like a little bedroom community.” This was a tremendous source of pride for residents, Kenner said, “people were begging to get in.”
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