KJK’s History of Community Involvement

August 19, 2016

KJK’s commitment to inclusion and diversity in our community is deeply rooted. It starts with the ideals of our founders and remains today beyond a single program or trend. The story that follows is just one of the many instances where one of our partners stood up for what was right.

Steve Phillips is a founder of Democracy in Color, a civil rights lawyer, and the author of New York Times and Washington Post bestseller Brown is the New White. In sharing an inspiring story about President Barack Obama visiting his house in San Francisco, Mr. Phillips identified the difficulty his parents had buying a house in a suburb of Cleveland in the 1960’s because of their race. Mr. Phillips writes:

Obama’s words resonated so deeply with me because I am literally a child of the Civil Rights Movement. Born in 1964 and a beneficiary of the Fair Housing movement, I was immersed from a young age in the milieu of the movement. After getting the house they wanted (and the house I grew up in) by turning to a white housing rights lawyer, Byron Krantz, to buy our home and deed it over to my parents, my mother still slept in her clothes after we moved in because she was afraid our house might get firebombed.

KJK Partner Brett Krantz, son of founding partner Byron Krantz, provides further insight into his father and late brother’s involvement in this story. When visiting the house on behalf of Steve’s parents, Byron, accompanied by his then five-year old son, Marc, was reluctant to act on behalf of undisclosed buyers.  “When Marc told the owner of the house that he attended Plymouth Church preschool, the owner said they were glad to hear that because the last people who had looked at the house were ‘undesirables.’ Knowing that the Phillips’ had been refused houses based on the color of their skin, my dad replied, ‘Oh, were they Black?’  The owner replied, ‘No, they were Jews.’  Right then and there my dad decided to buy the house for the Phillips family.”

The story can be found here.