Lecture, Online Video     Series: Fair Housing Act 50th Anniversary

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

Richard Rothstein discusses his book, The Color of Law, with Allan Lazo. Recorded on April 19, 2018, at Alberta Abbey in Portland, Oregon. Presented by the Fair Housing Council of Oregon.

Recently named by the New York Times as one of the 100 notable books of 2017, Richard Rothstein’s The Color of Law: A forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America is an explosive, alarming history that finally confronts how American governments in the twentieth century deliberately imposed residential racial segregation on metropolitan areas nationwide. Join us for an evening with the author, who will discuss the findings described in his new book and will hold a post-lecture conversation with Allan Lazo.

The Color of Law documents how American cities from San Francisco to Boston became so racially divided, as federal, state, and local governments systematically imposed residential segregation through a variety of policies. Those policies were supplemented by racially purposeful government programs that depressed African American incomes, making escape nearly impossible from neighborhoods of concentrated disadvantage. Properties in African American neighborhoods frequently had higher assessed-to-market-value ratios, resulting in higher property tax payments. The federal government certified unions that excluded African Americans from membership, denying them full participation in the economic boom that followed World War II.

“Rothstein is brilliant and has the kind of fine understanding of the machinery of government policy as it relates to housing that I deeply envy.”
—ta nehisi Coates, in The Atlantic

Richard Rothstein is a research associate of the Economic Policy Institute and a fellow of the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and of the Haas Institute at the University of California (Berkeley). In addition to The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How our Government Segregated America, he is the author of Grading Education: Getting Accountability Right (2008); Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic and Educational Reform to Close the Black-White Achievement Gap (2004); and The Way We Were? Myths and Realities of America’s Student Achievement (1998).

Fair Housing Act 50th

Richard Rothstein

Allan Lazo is the executive director of the Fair Housing Council of Oregon (FHCO), a statewide civil rights organization founded in 1990 whose mission is to end housing discrimination and ensure equal opportunity to housing. Prior to joining FHCO, Allan had been an east Portland small business owner. He currently serves on the City of Portland Housing Bureau’s Affordable Housing Bond Stakeholder Advisory Group and Bond Oversight Committee. Allan’s past civic engagement and social justice work includes having served on the City of Gresham Planning Commission and the City of Portland’s Human Rights Commission. Throughout Allan’s consulting and volunteer history, he has served as an advocate for civil rights and social justice in our community, especially in the areas of housing, homelessness, and racial equity.

Allan Lazo 

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