LAI Book Club – 2020
IT IS TIME TO LEARN
Join the new LAI MN Book Club for a discussion of Richard Rothstein’s The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America. Called by William Julius Wilson “the most forceful argument ever published on how federal, state, and local governments gave rise to and reinforced neighborhood segregation,” Rothstein’s history battles decades of public perception and misinformation and the myth of “de facto” segregation.
FORMAT FOR BOOK CLUB
- You’ll read one chapter a week.
- There will be three facilitated Zoom conversations, one every three weeks. At each meeting we will discuss three chapters.
- Our meetings for this book will be held from noon to 1 p.m. on August 13, Sept. 3 and Sept. 24.
- If you are interested in joining us, please register below, so we can get a rough number of participants.
GET THE BOOK
The Color of Law was one of Publishers Weekly’s 10 Best Books of 2017 and was designated one of ten finalists on the National Book Awards’ long list for the best nonfiction book of 2017. Find out more about the book and order it in hardcover, paperback, kindle or audible formats at amazon.com. Learn more by listening to Terry Gross’s interview of Richard Rothstein on NPR’s Fresh Air and listening to Richard Rothstein in conversation with Ta-Nehisi Coates.
MORE ABOUT THE COLOR OF LAW
In The Color of Law, 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 levels.
To scholars and social critics, the racial segregation of our neighborhoods has long been viewed as a manifestation of unscrupulous real estate agents, unethical mortgage lenders and exclusionary covenants working outside the law. This is what is commonly known as “de facto segregation,” practices that were the outcome of private activity, not law or explicit public policy. Yet, as Rothstein breaks down in case after case, private activity could not have imposed segregation without explicit government policies (de jure segregation) designed to ensure the separation of African Americans from whites.
A former columnist for the New York Times and a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute, as well as a Fellow at the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Rothstein has spent years documenting the evidence that government didn’t merely ignore discriminatory practices in the residential sphere, but promoted them. The impact has been devastating for generations of African Americans who were denied the right to live where they wanted to live, and raise and school their children where they could flourish most successfully.
While the Fair Housing Act of 1968 provided modest enforcement to prevent future discrimination, it did nothing to reverse or undo a century’s worth of state-sanctioned violations of the Bill of Rights, particularly the Thirteenth Amendment which banned treating former slaves as second-class citizens. So the structural conditions established by 20th century federal policy endure to this day.
At every step of the way, Rothstein demonstrates, the government and our courts upheld racist policies to maintain the separation of whites and blacks—leading to the powder keg that has defined Ferguson, Baltimore, Charleston and Chicago. The Color of Law is not a tale of Red versus Blue states. It is sadly the story of America in all of its municipalities, large and small, liberal and reactionary.
As William Julius Wilson has stated: “The Color of Law is one of those rare books that will be discussed and debated for many decades.”
“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.”
– Jared Bernstein, Washington Post
“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.”
– David Oshinsky, New York Times Book Review
“Richard Rothstein’s The Color of Law is one of those rare books that will be discussed and debated for many decades. Based on careful analyses of multiple historical documents, Rothstein has presented what I consider to be the most forceful argument ever published on how federal, state and local governments gave rise to and reinforced neighborhood segregation.”
– William Julius Wilson, author of The Truly Disadvantaged
Lambda Alpha International (LAI) is the global network for distinguished professionals in all fields related to land economics and the use and development of land. LAI is committed to promoting best practices and making a difference in our communities. The 2,000-plus international members of LAI make valuable connections locally and with peers worldwide. The Minnesota Chapter offers thought-provoking programs and activities with top speakers, relevant forums and networking events.