Each of our conferences kicks off with a program that offers a 360-degree view and one-hour leadership update. After a week of “fake news” and fear running rampant, our president faced the masses. Elizabeth Mendenhall got up on stage, full of grace, and OWNED IT! Elizabeth spoke to an overflow crowd with a message of encouragement and forward motion. She said, “With change comes fear and with increased transparency comes fear.” She told us to, “Be Bold and OWN IT!” She then introduced a fair housing program that was phenomenal. Numerous speakers shared the history of segregation, the historical victories that began to change it, and the role that REALTORS® played in perpetuating the divisions. It started like this:
“Prelude to a dream. To pass a law and to fundamentally change the culture of a country are two very different things, yet are too often conflated. If passing a law meant transforming hearts and minds, then there would be no crime, no need to rally, to march, to resist. Let us agree then that laws are not magic, merely guidelines and aspirations, blue prints with consequences. Only the actions of people can transmogrify circumstances, correct the projections of a life’s trajectory. That’s why the motto is Fair Housing Makes Us Stronger, not the Fair Housing Act, makes us stronger.”
It continued on and was a very impactful and powerful presentation that shared the struggles and dreams of American minorities. Immediate Past President Bill Brown then took the stage to a standing ovation. He shared his family’s personal story of overcoming housing discrimination and encouraged us to lead the way forward.
Later in the evening, there was an event to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. It was incredible and emotional, but extremely powerful. As the evening ended, I felt incredibly proud to be a REALTOR®. Hearing our great leaders share a bold message about celebrating diversity made for a great start to the conference!