ST. LOUIS – An historic apology today from St. Louis Realtors, one of the largest real estate associations in the United States. Its leadership apologized Monday for what it called “a legacy of racism and discrimination.”
“Numerous historical events, laws, decisions, and initiatives reflect a history of explicit racial segregation and discrimination. We apologize for these actions,” said Katie Berry, president of St. Louis Realtors.
The apology and a supportive response came Monday morning on the Harris Stowe State University campus.
“Our apology is not based on new revelations. It is based on the realization that we cannot move forward together as a community until there is an acknowledgement of this regrettable past,” Berry said.
The event featured a diverse group of speakers detailing racial discrimination in St. Louis real estate. They shared stories of residential racial segregation led by the federal government and supported by the banking system and the real estate industry. Practices like redlining, where government maps were used to prevent Black people from getting home loans in certain areas prior to the passage of the Fair Housing Act and Home Mortgage Disclosure Act.
“Today, their apology and their plan going forward to actually do the things that are within their bailiwick to change that history is amazing,” said Will Jordan, executive director of the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council.
St. Louis Realtors’ apology comes with a plan for change. The “Reimagining St. Louis” plan includes 22 different initiatives that the association says will educate, promote, and support African Americans and other minorities interested in all aspects of the real estate industry.
“We have all profited from many of the discriminatory practices, so it was time for us to come forward and say we’re sorry,” Berry said. “I think that it’s only through that apology that we are able to take the next steps and be really trusted partners in the community. We are committed to moving forward and building a more equitable St. Louis.”
“It shows you there is a huge change in St. Louis that is happening right now, starting at the ground level with the realtors,” Jordan said.