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A Habitat Executive Director Reflects on Black History Month

Understanding history and how the past affects the present can be a building block for meaningful growth and change

Dear Friends,

My peer in Atlanta recently posted an eloquent message about the connection, past and present, of Habitat and Black History Month.

Because I could not say it any better, I’d like to share an excerpt of that message with you today.

Please know that we believe we have an important role to play in bringing about racial and gender equity through our work, and we take that role seriously. We are grateful for all those that work beside us. Thank you!

From Lisa Gordon, former president and CEO of Atlanta Habitat for Humanity:

“…Black History Month, observed nationally since 1976, is an opportunity to reflect and celebrate the achievements and contributions of African Americans, past and present – as well as think about our role in making the world a better, safer, and more equitable place through advancing affordable homeownership. Habitat for Humanity International, also founded in 1976, was born from the 1942 launch of Koinonia Farms, a racially-integrated community located in the then segregated South Georgia city of Americus.

Historically, in this city and many others across the country, African Americans were legally denied access to land and homeownership. Even when redlining became prohibited through the passing of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which made housing discrimination illegal, the practices continued.

Today, communities of color are still being impacted by systematic disparities, including less access to capital, mortgages, and the ability to live in neighborhoods of their choice. Even when they stay in disinvested neighborhoods and economic investment starts, they are often displaced and their communities face rapid gentrification.

The work of past civil rights leaders and unsung heroes has laid the foundation for what Habitat sets out to do every day – create a world where everyone has a safe, decent place to live. Dr. King’s vision of the Beloved Community requires us to build our communities and all to see one another’s humanity.

Understanding history and how the past affects the present can be a building block for meaningful growth and change for the future. In honor of Black History Month, we want to reflect not only on history but on the power we have individually and collectively to change and transform our world. We appreciate the many partners from many walks of life that stand and build with us. They allow us to shape our own narrative and bring about real and meaningful change.”

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