On April 11, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968 into law. Also known as the Fair Housing Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1968 was meant as a follow-up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The 1968 act expanded on previous acts and prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, color, religion, and national origin.
The enactment of the federal Fair Housing Act came only after a long and difficult journey. From 1966-1967, Congress regularly considered the fair housing bill, but failed to garner a strong enough majority for its passage. However, when the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson utilized this national tragedy to urge for the bill’s speedy Congressional approval. Since the 1966 open housing marches in Chicago, Dr. King’s name had been closely associated with fair housing legislation. President Johnson viewed the Act as a fitting memorial to the man’s life work, and wished to have the Act passed prior to Dr. King’s funeral in Atlanta.
In 1974 Congress added sex as a protection under the Fair Housing Act. In 1988 Congress passed the Fair Housing Amendments Act which prohibited discrimination based on disability and familial status.