A Tribute to Clifford C. Schrupp
The fair housing community lost one of its most revered advocates with the passing of Cliff Schrupp; who died on September 11th, 2013.
As the founding director of The Fair Housing of Metropolitan Detroit, we thank the community for its acknowledgement and honor his contributions to our cause as both a champion of fair housing and as our friend. Our condolences to his family and all of the community.
Mr. Schrupp's career focused on civil rights concerns and the modification of the behavior of individuals and institutions in the community in relation to the issues of racism and racial justice. He held his position as Executive Director of the Fair Housing Center of Metropolitan Detroit, from 1977 when the Center was organized until his recent retirement in 2013.
During his 30+ years in practice for FHCMD, he supervised the investigation of over 6,000 complaints of unlawful housing discrimination, with over 400 of those complaints resulting in fair housing litigation in state or federal courts. Over $11 million in financial settlements and awards from defendants were earned. Mr. Schrupp wrote and/or supervised the writing of all, or major portions of, the HUD required Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing for: the State of Michigan, three Michigan counties, and eight local units of government in Michigan. He was an associate with Lewis Associates and a frequent writer and speaker on housing discrimination, fair housing and racial justice issues.
Clifford Schrupp was honored by the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion with the Walter H. Beckham Jr. Community Service Award during their 66th Annual Humanitarian Tribute event.
Mark Schrupp accepted the award on behalf of his recently deceased father. Below is his acceptance speech:
Thank you, Rueben.
On behalf of my sisters, Laura and Christa, we accept the Michigan Roundtable Diversity and Inclusion William H Beckham Jr. Community Service Award presented to our father Clifford Schrupp.
Dad always spoke so admirably about the Michigan Roundtable and its work; he would have been very humbled to be here and receive this award, especially along side such distinguished co-honorees – James Nicholson, a great philanthropist and supporter of important civic institutions here in Detroit and southeast Michigan, and Dr. Kimerlydawn Wisdom, who has done more than almost anyone to improve health and wellness opportunities in Detroit. As Cliff’s children, we are honored and humbled by this award.
As I said, Cliff was so fond of the Michigan Roundtable and the important and valuable work it has done for so long – 72 years – and continues to do. Dad was really excited about the Roundtable’s Housing Project Partnership, headed by Freda Sampson. That project aims to get at the root causes of housing segregation and inequity in the region.
The Fair Housing Center, which my dad led for over 30 years, and the Michigan Roundtable are both part of the same basic struggle in this country – for equal opportunity, justice, understanding and dignity. With over 230 years since the Declaration of Independence, when we proclaimed the inalienable right of all people to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, you would think that we would have ingrained equality and justice into our fiber as a people and that these basic rights, including the right to live where you want to live, would not be so routinely denied to so many of our brothers and sisters. But we know, and Dad certainly taught us, that despite the rhetoric and platitudes we often recite, racism has permeated our institutions, public and private for all of those years. And despite the good work of the Fair Housing Center, The Michigan Roundtable and so many others, racism and inequality remain our biggest challenge as a people. The fight continues.
As many of you know, the Fair Housing Center, has been critical to opening doors of housing opportunity for so many people in Michigan, and across the country. But not only did our dad help those who were the victims of illegal discrimination find justice, but through many training sessions, Cliff helped well-meaning individuals and companies in the housing industry understand the law and how to avoid infringing on the rights of homeseekers. My sisters and I are very proud of my dad’s legacy in fair housing.
But we are equally proud of the lessons he taught us about racism and white privilege, fundamental issues that the Michigan Roundtable has addressed since its inception. First, racism: He helped us understand that it is virtually impossible to grow up in America and not adopt – at some level, consciously or subconsciously – racist notions. From infancy, we receive regular messages that being white is positive and somehow “normal” or “better,”, but that being of color is somehow “lesser,” “different” or not the norm.
Dad taught us that we must admit these notions have infected our thinking and that we must consciously and regularly correct this kind of thinking. It is not a sin to admit your racism. It is simply being honest and the righteous thing to do. Second, we must acknowledge the privileges that this society confers on people based on race. I can’t count how often I get a free pass, a positive nod that I know deep down has a lot to do with my skin color. Whether it’s in stores where the security guards never pay attention to me, or in academic settings when teachers assumed I had the right answer even when I did not, so often this world seems created for me. As white people, my dad would say, we must humbly work to eradicate the double-standards and work to create a world where all people have the same bundle of rights and privileges, where everyone is treated as if the world is created for them.
Cliff certainly lived his life by these principles. And he supported the Roundtable and its work because this organization also supports these principles. The work continues.
Again, my sisters and I thank you for this award.
Thank you very much.