Chair's Book Club

FOR MEMBERS Chair's Book Club

What We’re Reading:
The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America
by Richard Rothstein


Join your SECF colleagues this winter for engaging discussions and programs focused on Richard Rothstein’s groundbreaking work on housing segregation in America.

 

How to participate:

First, join the Chair’s Book Club. From there, you choose how to engage – read the book, join a discussion group, attend events. Take part in one activity or join us for all!

 

1) Read the book.


2) Join a discussion and share your thoughts.

We’ve started a private group on Goodreads so members can discuss the book with each other, ask questions, and share their thoughts on topics and themes from the work. New to Goodreads? Visit Goodreads online to get started and create an account. To join the SECF discussion, go to our Chair’s Book Club page on Goodreads.

Zoom – offers a free Basic Plan with a 40-minute time limit on video conferences with three or more participants. The free plan includes most features and can accommodate up to 100 participants in a meeting.
Skype – the Meet Now option lets you start a chat or meeting without having to sign up for an account or download the app to your desktop. Users will need to download the Skype app to use the service on their phone. Allows for up to 50 people with no time limit.
FaceTime – if everyone in your group is on Apple devices, you can start a Group FaceTime from the FaceTime app or from a group conversation in the Messages app and add up to 32 people. See this link for more information and instructions.
Google Meet – formerly Hangouts Meet, this tool is now being rolled out to all Google users. Google is providing unlimited meeting time through September 30, 2020, and you can host up to 100 participants. Hosts and participants must have a Google account.
Slack – provides a free option for small groups to create an online discussion forum with messaging. Video conferencing is available for 1:1 calls, but not groups. Best for ongoing or asynchronous discussions between group calls.
 

3) Attend upcoming programs.

Stay tuned for more programs around our selected title. In the meantime, you can view past webinars in our Archived Programs.

 

About the Book:


In this groundbreaking history of the modern American metropolis, Richard Rothstein, a leading authority on housing policy, 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. Rather, The Color of Law incontrovertibly makes clear that it was de jure segregation – the laws and policy decisions passed by local, state, and federal governments – that actually promoted the discriminatory patterns that continue to this day.

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. “The American landscape will never look the same to readers of this important book” (Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund), as Rothstein’s invaluable examination shows that only by relearning this history can we finally pave the way for the nation to remedy its unconstitutional past.


About the Author:


Richard Rothstein is a Distinguished Fellow of the Economic Policy Institute and a Senior Fellow (emeritus) at the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. He is the author of The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, which recovers a forgotten history of how federal, state, and local policy explicitly segregated metropolitan areas nationwide, creating racially homogenous neighborhoods in patterns that violate the Constitution and require remediation. He is also the author of many other articles and books on race and education, including Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic and Educational Reform to Close the Black–White Achievement Gap and Grading Education: Getting Accountability Right.

Past Selections

 · The Sun Does Shine: Discussion Questions
 · The Sun Does Shine: Discussion Guide & Additional Resources

If you have questions about the Chair's Book Club, please contact Stephen Sherman, Director of Research & Data, at stephen@secf.org or (404) 524-0911.

 


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