Community Leaders Join Rothstein to Discuss Discriminatory Housing Policy & Spark Action for Change

“Essential reading…. A timely work that should find a place in the current national discussion.” – Booklist

More than 100 community members and policy makers attended Cinnaire’s recent Building Equitable Communities Symposium at The Queen Theater in Wilmington. At the symposium, Richard Rothstein, author of the The Color of Law, outlined with multiple historic examples how segregationist government policies shaped our cities and suburbs nationwide. Mayor Michael Purzycki and a panel of community leaders, including Cinnaire’s CSO Jim Peffley; Dr. Jason Bourke, Delaware State University; Logan Herring, Reach Riverside; and Rashmi Ragan, Delaware Community Reinvestment Council, Inc., followed with a discussion on how these policies have played out in Delaware.

Rothstein is sought out at universities and conferences nationwide to discuss the concept of government sanctioned segregation outlined in The Color of Law, which was long listed for the National Book Awards and recipient of the 2018 Sydney Hillman prize. The book draws on his research along with the scholarship of a generation of historians and sociologists whose documentation of the federal role in urban segregation has been central to understanding the recent urban past.

At the Building Equitable Communities Symposium, Rothstein outlined 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.

“Black Americans have a 60% income ratio to whites, but just a 10% wealth ratio,” Rothstein remarked. “The enormous disparity between a 60% income ratio and a 10% wealth ratio is entirely attributable to unconstitutional federal housing policy and a civil rights violation that every one of us has an obligation to remedy.”

Following Mr. Rothstein’s keynote, Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki spoke about the importance of having conversations to better understand history of these policies and to work together to identify how to move forward.

“We keep thinking, how can we make this better?” said Mayor Purzycki. “We need to be helping people create wealth where they’ve been denied wealth. We should be helping people get educated with scholarships who were denied education. Those are things we have to do, but beyond that, we have to change our culture across this country so people start to embrace our failings as a society so we can move forward and the only way to do that is to understand it fully. We have to have conversations about it.”

“Our intention in hosting the symposium today is to start a dialogue with our partners in Wilmington and beyond to address the impact housing policies have in communities across our country,” said Jim Peffley, Cinnaire Chief Strategy Officer. “By sparking the conversation and working closely with our partners, we can change the narrative and make positive changes to ensure all people have equal access to jobs, education, housing and opportunities.”

The symposium a panel discussion including local housing and community development leaders addressing the long-term impacts of these issues in Delaware. The panelists included: Jason Bourke, Delaware State University; Logan Herring, Reach Riverside; and Rashmi Ragan, Delaware Community Reinvestment Council, Inc.

About Rothstein

Rothstein is a former columnist for the New York Times. He 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 and of the Haas Institute at the University of California at Berkeley. He is the author most recently of The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, which was long listed for the National Book Awards and was awarded the 2018 Sydney Hillman prize. Richard has been for much of his career a scholar and policy analyst of education. In this vein he has also written Grading Education: Getting Accountability Right; Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic and Educational Reform to Close the Black – White Achievement Gap; and The Way We Were? Myths and Realities of America’s Student Achievement.