"The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America"

Jul 26, 2017

On this edition of ST, a discussion with Richard Rothstein, who is a research associate of the Economic Policy Institute and a Fellow at the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Widely seen as a leading authority on U.S. housing policy, Rothstein joins us to talk about his well-researched and disturbing new book, "The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America." This book reports on a little-known facet of American history that begins in the 1920s, showing how de jure segregation began with explicit racial zoning, as millions of African Americans moved in a great migration from the south to the north. This segregation was further carried out -- nationwide -- by the seriously flawed urban planning of the 1950s, and while the Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibited future discrimination in this regard, it did nothing to reverse residential patterns that had become deeply embedded. It also did nothing to undo or rectify the long-running economic damage done to non-whites by so many decades of race-based housing discrimination. As was noted of this book by The Washington Post: "Masterful.... The Rothstein book gathers meticulous research showing how governments at all levels long employed racially discriminatory policies to deny blacks the opportunity to live in neighborhoods with jobs, good schools, and upward mobility." And further, per The New York Times Book Review: "A powerful and disturbing history of residential segregation in America.... One of the great strengths of Rothstein's account is the sheer weight of evidence he marshals.... While the road forward is far from clear, there is no better history of this troubled journey than 'The Color of Law.'"