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‘Color Of Law’ Author On The Government’s Role In Segregation, Redlining


Redlining is the act of segregating neighborhoods along racial lines. And it’s the subject of a new book by former New York Times columnist Richard Rothstein.

Rothstein’s book, “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America” outlines the ways the government and institutions actively participated in this segregation. Rothstein will be in Louisville Thursday. I spoke with him about how redlining began. Listen in the player above.

On how limiting where someone can live effects all aspects of their life:

"The fact that African-Americans could not get loans for homes in neighborhoods that were predominately African-American forced them to pay much more for housing than whites would have to pay for similar housing. It increased their poverty, it increased the overcrowding in black neighborhoods because in order to maintain homes and afford housing, African-Americans had to double up or sublet parts of their home, subdivide them. So this policy of the federal government led to much of the impoverishment and loss of wealth in African-American communities."

On the myth that segregation occurs naturally:

"The most important way we can dispel this myth is to have conversations about the history, to learn the history, to have conversations in our congregations and our community organizations. To change the way the history is being taught in schools. In our high schools across the country, redlining is treated as an action that banks undertook on their own without federal government requirement. The suburbs that were created by the federal housing administration on an all-white basis are not described as all-white by federal requirement in our history textbooks. We need to change the way it's taught."

Richard Rothstein will speak at the 2018 annual meeting of the Metropolitan Housing Coalition on Thursday at 5:15 p.m. It’s held at the Olmsted on Frankfort Avenue in Louisville.

Bill Burton is the Morning Edition host for LPM. Email Bill at bburton@lpm.org.

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