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About Bernard J. Kleina

Civil Rights Activist

In 1965, after viewing the attacks on civil rights marchers in what is now known as "Bloody Sunday," Bernard Kleina went to Selma, Alabama to stand up for the rights of people who were denied the right to vote. Bernard Kleina was a Catholic priest at the time. In demonstrating for this right, Mr. Kleina was taken into custody for "parading without a permit," even though there were only five people, including Mr. Kleina, walking in a Selma neighborhood, without signs or displays of any kind.

The Selma Times Journal Newspaper, on its front page, shows a photograph of Mr. Kleina being taken into custody by then Public Safety Director, Wilson Baker. (Selma Times Journal, March 21, 1965.) Since that time, Bernard Kleina has devoted his life to ensuring that all people are treated fairly and equitably in their search to achieve and enjoy the American Dream.

Mr. Kleina believes that it is his mission and responsibility "to hunger and thirst after justice," even though in so doing, his life has been treatened, he has been verbally and physically attacked, spit upon, his office windows have been shot out and he has been the subject of condemnation and retaliation.

Champion of Fair Housing and Other Social Concerns

Bernard J. Kleina has served as Executive Director of HOPE Fair Housing Center in Wheaton, IL for more than 41 years and is one of the most respected fair housing advocates in the country. He has been described as "a champion of fair housing and other social concerns." One of its founding members, Bernard Kleina currently serves on the Board of Directors of the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA). He is past President of the Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance. Additionally, he serves on the boards of the DuPage Legal Assistance Foundation, and Housing Choice Partners of Illinois, and has served on the faculty of the Office of Legal Education for the U.S. Department of Justice.

Education and Outreach

Bernard Kleina is a professional photographer and media consultant. He has produced audio-visual presentations on poverty and on fair and affordable housing issues. His photography and multi-image presentations have been exhibited in both the United States and Europe. The video presentations by Mr. Kleina and Susan Keleher Kleina on civil rights, fair housing and fair lending are shown throughout the country by housing and real estate professionals, attorneys, lending institutions, newspaper publishers, municipal and county officials, schools and universities, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Department of Justice and fair housing agencies across the United States.

For the National Fair Housing Summit in Washington, they produced a ten-minute tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Roberta Achtenberg, former Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing said, "...the spirit of Dr. King, as shown through the scenes in your film, provided moving insight into the issue of intolerance in our society and provide a foundation for the workshop dialogue that the 1,100 Summit attendees engaged in daily." Mr. Kleina also produced a slide and graphic support presentation, American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass, for Nancy Denton, co-author of the book of the same name.

Bono, of the rock group "U2" took a selection of Mr. Kleina's photographs of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement to Dublin, Ireland as part of a world tour exhibit sponsored by The Peace Museum in Chicago.

For Sears Tower, Mr. Kleina produced three eighteen-projector, eight-minute multi-media presentations entitled, "The Chicago Experience" which ran continuously for more than eight years and was seen annually by more than 1.5 million people. For The Los Angeles Times Bernard and Susan produced a 15-minute audio­visual presentation on Real Estate Advertising. The MacDonald Classified Service said in the June 1995 issue in Executips, "The film (Sharing the American Dream) is a must-see for every advertiser and newspaper employee involved with fair housing issues...the video's real strength lies in its ability to express the benefits of living in a world in which housing opportunities are open to everyone."

Professor Robert G. Schwemm of the College of Law at the University of Kentucky Lexington, said about Bernard Kleina, "...it is clear that his ability to articulate the fundamental principles of this struggle--with images as well as words--has been a source of great strength of the national fair housing movement, as well as to HOPE. And HOPE's ability to maintain a significant fair housing presence in the Chicago Metropolitan Area has been a miraculous achievement."

Professor Okainer Dark, whose own experience with housing discrimination is the subject of one of Bernard and Susan's video presentations, said, The making of the video "Housing Discrimination ... Who Should Ever Have to Get Used to That?" was one of the most satisfying experiences that I have had. I could not have even imagined how wonderful you would make my words about this experience. could not have envisioned the way you use music, pictures and words to address so effectively, the unspeakable and the invisible harm caused victims of housing discrimination. But, you did it, and did it so well!"