Fair Housing Act

Protesters at a rally for fair housing. One man is holding a sign that reads: “We Demand Fair Housing Now,” while others behind him are using a bullhorn. Photo courtesy the Wisconsin Historical Society

In early 1957 attorney general Herbert Brownell proposed the civil rights act that was later signed by Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Signing this act was one of the stepping stones that led to the proposal of the fair housing act in 1968. On April 11th 1968 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed The Fair Housing Act that prevents discrimination regarding the sale, renting and financing of housing based on religion, national origin, sex, and race.  The original goal of the bill was to extend federal protection to civil rights workers, but it eventually expanded to address the housing discrimination due to race. With the signing of the Fair Housing Act, this allowed African American and other races to obtain fair housing.  Many suburbs still remained segregated years after the bill was passed. 1

More locally in Green Bay African Americans faced their own issues regarding housing. On October 1st, 1968, 6 months after the Fair Housing Act was signed the Green Bay city counsel held a meeting regarding the housing within the city.2 One of the issues the city had faced was single family homes in which an owner occupier rented out a single room, which was not covered under the housing act. The meeting passed an ordinance that would cover the single family homes. According to the Green Bay Press Gazette they stated “One of the harshest things said about green bay ” was that “it was a city which cheers a football player who happens to be a member of a minority race… on Sunday afternoon only to deny [him] the equal right to buy or rent a house on Monday morning.” 3

The debate regarding the ordinance took place during the Civil Rights moment.  While this debate was being discussed, larger cities in the north had less segregation than cities in the south such as Milwaukee. According to the article “Civil Rights in Titletown”  Milwaukee had a well organized effort for open housing that led to 200 consecutive days of marches for Civil rights in 1967 and 1968. 4 Later in 1968 Milwaukee brought forth an ordinance that covered 95% of housing sales in the city. As Milwaukee moved forward with these events Green Bay passed an even stricter ordinance for their city with a 26 to 2 vote witnessed by at least 350 people in a 3 hour debate. Similar ordinances were also passed in Appleton, Kaukana, and Oshkosh.


  1.  “The Fair Housing Act.” Edited by History.com, History.com, A&E Television Networks, 27 Jan. 2010, www.history.com/topics/black-history/fair-housing-act.
  2. John Doyle, “Open Housing Law Adopted on 26-2 City Council Vote, ” Green Bay Press Gazette”, Oct. 2, 1968;
  3. Green Bay Packers Declares Its Belief,” Green Bay Press Gazette, Oct. 2, 1968.
  4. Lutz, Greg; Shelton, Jon; Taylor, Joseph “Civil Rights in Titletown: Green Bay’s Open Housing Ordinance of 1968” Dec 2018