Bench Dedication: Honoring Marion Maner
This week we sat down with Kristopher J. Anderson, the Director of Government Affairs at the Chicago Association of Realtors (C.A.R.), to talk about our most recent bench dedication in Avalon Park in honor of Marion Maner, the first African American President of the Chicago Association of Realtors.
Every day when Kristopher goes into the C.A.R. office he notices the portraits of past C.A.R. presidents. While most of these portraits paint a similar image, white men looking out across the office, one of these portraits is different. This is the photograph of Marion Maner, the first African American President of C.A.R.
Mr. Maner became president of C.A.R. in 1978, a mere 10 years after the Fair Housing Act became a law. C.A.R. has been around since 1883. “It took them 95 years to elect a man of color” says Kristopher, who took it upon himself to research the life and legacy of Mr. Maner.
According to Kristopher, Mr. Maner is remembered for his humility and his willingness to help other realtors. Mr. Maner was continuously providing opportunities for other to become realtors, no matter what their background. He was also a big player in the push for fair housing in Chicago.
Kristopher wanted to honor Mr. Maner in a public place, where people could see his name and ask questions about his notability. His search led him to participating in CPF's Bench Dedication Program. Working with our staff, Kristopher was able to place a bench at the front door of the Avalon Park Field House,– the park is the epicenter of Mr. Maner’s home, church and office.
The significance of Avalon Park is important in Mr. Maner’s story. Kristopher describes the Avalon Park/Chatham community as a vibrant and thriving place for black people, and it’s where Mr. Maner conducted his business and lived with his family.
On Friday August 26th, a large group of community members gathered for the unveiling of Mr. Maner’s bench. Among the crowd was Alderman Michelle Harris of the 8th Ward, Alderman Roderick T. Sawyer of the 6th Ward, MWRD Commissioner Kari Steele-Jackson,Sidney Maner, Marion Maner’s son, numerous members of the Maner family and church and many other important names in real estate, including four former Presidents of the Association. The amount of community support reflected the impact Mr. Maner had throughout his time as a REALTOR® and as the President of C.A.R.
Kristopher hopes that Mr. Maner’s bench dedication prompts people to ask questions about who he was. “For me, as a well-read African American man, I didn’t know who Marion Maner was. I wanted to make sure that history was not lost.”
The Chicago Association of Realtors (C.A.R.) prides itself as an organization of people from all different background - not just your typical realtor. Made up of 14,000 members of various backgrounds (both commercial and residential brokers, appraisers, property managers, landlords, and others), C.A.R. is the voice for real estate in Chicago. C.A.R. provides advocacy, professional development, and resources that are designed to enhance business success, service to clients and engagement in communities for a diverse community of real estate professionals. Kristopher says, "We are not just selling houses, we're building a community."