When Frank J. Williams opened F.J. Williams Realty in 1971, his home was firebombed. Located on Chicago’s Southwest Side, the brokerage faced racist attacks and protests by neighbors who accused Williams of “blockbusting,” a term that implied he was lowering the property value of the neighborhood. But Williams continued his work, assisting buyers and fighting for integration within the real estate industry.
Now, more than 50 years later, he is being honored with the Fair Housing Champion Awards. Williams was among three winners recognized at the recent awards, which were held by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) and Realtor.com during NAR’s Fair Housing Month.
Celebrating those who go above and beyond to promote fair housing, Williams was chosen for his decades of service at both the state and local level. After establishing F.J. Williams Realty, Williams served as president of the Southside Chicago chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) from 1979 until 1985. In 1989, he became president of the Chicago Association of REALTORS® (CAR) and, three years later, was named CAR REALTOR® of the Year. He was inducted into the association’s Hall of Fame in 2017. Today, Williams remains the managing director of F.J. Williams Realty and continues his role as a community leader.
As a Fair Housing Champion Award winner, Williams also receives a $5,000 prize to dedicate to a housing-related nonprofit of his choice. CAR is matching the funds, which Williams will spread across multiple organizations: Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation, the Neighborhood Network Alliance, Far South Community Development Corporation, Rainbow PUSH Coalition and the NAACP.
This year’s other winners include Abra Barnes, the broker-owner of Barnes & Associates REALTORS® in Birmingham, Alabama, and Sofia Crisp, the executive director at Housing Consultants Group in Greensboro and High Point, North Carolina.
“Affordability and fair housing are the biggest challenges facing the real estate industry today, and I am so proud of all the work our winners have put in to increase access to homeownership,” NAR President Kenny Parcell said in a press release. “They have set an example of leadership, and I hope their work will motivate others to take action.”
“Discrimination and a lack of housing affordability disproportionately impact marginalized communities, and that makes it harder for many individuals to gain access to homeownership and start building generational wealth,” concluded Realtor.com Chief Marketing Officer Mickey Neuberger.