The Legacy of the 1968 Fair Housing Act

Douglas S. Massey

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91 Scopus citations


Civil rights activists in 1968 hoped that the passage of the Fair Housing Act would lead to the residential desegregation of American society. In this article, I assess the degree to which this hope has been fulfilled. I begin by reviewing how the black ghetto came to be a universal feature of American cities during the twentieth century and the means by which high levels of black segregation were achieved. I then describe the legislative maneuvers required to pass the Fair Housing Act and review its enforcement provisions to assess its potential for achieving desegregation. After examining trends in residential segregation since 1970, I conclude with an appraisal of the prospects for integration as we move toward the fiftieth anniversary of the Act's passage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)571-588
Number of pages18
JournalSociological Forum
Issue numberS1
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


  • Civil rights
  • Inequality
  • Neighborhood
  • Policy
  • Race
  • Segregation


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