An Evening with Author Richard Rothstein

Wednesday, March 4, 2020 - 7:00pm
Jones Middle School
2100 Arlington Avenue
Upper Arlington, OH 43221

Join leading authority on housing policy, Richard Rothstein, to learn more about his groundbreaking book, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America. Rothstein’s forceful book confronts how American governments in the twentieth century deliberately imposed residential racial segregation on metropolitan areas nationwide.
The program is part of Upper Arlington Historical Society’s History Speaks 2020 series$15 General Admission; $50 Event Admission + Pre-reception with Mr. Rothstein at 6:00 pm, including reserved event seating and a signed copy of the book (limited quantity). Tickets available on Eventbrite. See uahistory.org for further information. 

In this groundbreaking history of the modern American metropolis, Richard Rothstein argues with exacting precision and fascinating insight how segregation in America—the incessant kind that continues to dog our major cities and has contributed to so much recent social strife—is the byproduct of explicit government policies at the local, state, and federal level. It explodes the myth that America's cities came to be racially divided through de facto segregation--that is, through individual prejudices, income differences, or the actions of private institutions like banks and real estate agencies. 

Through extraordinary revelations and extensive research that Ta-Nehisi Coates has lauded as "brilliant" (The Atlantic), Rothstein comes to chronicle nothing less than an untold story that begins in the 1920s, showing how this process of de jure segregation began with explicit racial zoning, as millions of African Americans moved in a great historical migration from the south to the north.

As Jane Jacobs established in her classic The Death and Life of Great American Cities, it was the deeply flawed urban planning of the 1950s that created many of the impoverished neighborhoods we know. Now, Rothstein expands our understanding of this history, showing how government policies led to the creation of officially segregated public housing and the demolition of previously integrated neighborhoods. While urban areas rapidly deteriorated, the great American suburbanization of the post-World War II years was spurred on by federal subsidies for builders on the condition that no homes be sold to African Americans. Finally, Rothstein shows how police and prosecutors brutally upheld these standards by supporting violent resistance to black families in white neighborhoods.

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibited future discrimination but did nothing to reverse residential patterns that had become deeply embedded. Yet recent outbursts of violence in cities like Baltimore, Ferguson, and Minneapolis show us precisely how the legacy of these earlier eras contributes to persistent racial unrest. 

Richard Rothstein is a Distinguished Fellow of the Economic Policy Institute and a Fellow at the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. A former columnist for the New York Times, Rothstein lives in California, where is a Fellow of the Haas Institute at the University of California (Berkeley).