Congratulations to Past President Frank Williams, F.J. Williams Realty, who was honored as one of NAR’s 2023 Fair Housing Champion Award winners. The Fair Housing Champion Award honors REALTORS® who have gone above and beyond to advance fair housing and expand homeownership in underserved communities.
In the 50-plus years Frank Williams has served the real estate industry, he has become the trailblazing face of diversity and fair housing in Chicago. Facing verbal and physical attacks on his business and his family – so severe, his home was firebombed – his persistence ensured freedoms many of us enjoy today by fighting ‘for sale’ sign bans, anti-solicitation laws, restrictive covenants, industry integration, the Predatory Lending Database Pilot Program (HB 4050) and many other roadblocks.
Frank entered the industry in 1971, just eight years after Blacks were allowed to join the Chicago REALTORS® and three short years following the height of the civil rights movement. Frank’s mission has always been to ensure the American dream of homeownership was attainable to everyone, regardless of the color of their skin.
Upon opening his own brokerage, F.J. Williams Realty, in his Beverly neighborhood, the fight over fair housing rights came right to Frank Williams’ front door. Accused of being a “blockbuster,” the community did not take kindly to Frank assisting buyers in the neighborhood. Protesters gathered regularly outside of his office and vandalized both his office and his home. As vandalism and attacks escalated, a bomb was detonated on his front porch. A network of residents in town would call his office all day long, jamming the phone lines and warning him to stop selling in their neighborhood. The justice department opened an investigation into his business affairs with the explicit desire to freeze his real estate practice for an undetermined period of time until the inquiry was resolved.
Frank’s fight for equality led to his longtime involvement in the Southside Chicago branch of the NAACP, where he served as president from 1979 to 1985. Frank’s service and passionate advocacy led to his volunteer leadership involvement with the Chicago Association of REALTORS®. In 1989, he served as the association’s second black president. He also served as president of the Dearborn REALTIST® Board (the local NAREB chapter) among many other accomplishments and leadership roles across the city and country. He was inducted into our Hall of Fame in 2017.
To this day, Frank continues to be a strong advocate for fair housing in Chicago.
This award, sponsored by realtor.com®, provides a $5,000 prize that winners can dedicate to a housing-related nonprofit organization of their choice, which Frank has chosen to donate to:
- Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation
- The Neighborhood Network Alliance
- Far South Community Development Corporation
- Rainbow PUSH Coalition
- National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
The CAR Foundation will be matching this $5,000 prize.
Frank will be honored at NAR’s Legislative Meetings during their DEI + Fair Housing Networking Reception featuring the Fair Housing Champion Award Winners on Monday, May 8. Illinois REALTORS® will honor him during their REALTOR® Block Party during the Capitol Conference. We will be honoring Frank during a reception next month.