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'The Color of Law' Investigates The Government's Role In Segregating America

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Courtesy of the Milwaukee Journal
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July 1967: In the spring and summer of 1967, the NAACP Youth Council organized several demonstrations in Milwaukee in support of Alderman Vel Phillips' Open Housing bill. She had first introduced the bill in 1962, but it was not passed until 1968.

Editor's note: This piece was originally published on April 25, 2018.

While Milwaukee is often cited as the most segregated metropolitan area in the U.S., it’s hardly unusual. In most American cities, people of different races live in different neighborhoods and there’s a general pattern: neighborhoods near the center of a city are home to African-Americans and people of color, while the surrounding suburbs are majority white. But why?

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Credit W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
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W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

"The reality is that residential segregation in every metropolitan area in this country was explicitly created by federal, state, and local policies that were designed on their face to ensure that African-Americans and whites could not live with one another," says author Richard Rothstein. That question of segregation is at the heart of his new book called, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America.

READ: UWM Professor: Segregation Normalized Through Institutional Structures & Practices

Rothstien is also a Distinguished Fellow of the Economic Policy Institute, an Emeritus Senior Fellow of the Thurgood Marshall Institute at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and a Senior Fellow at the Haas Institute at the University of California, Berkley. He'll be in Milwaukee tomorrow evening to deliver the keynote speech at the 10-year-anniversary celebration for Community Advocates Public Policy Institute. Ahead of the event, he spoke with Lake Effect’s Joy Powers:

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Joy Powers hosts and produces Lake Effect. She joined WUWM January 2016 as a producer for Lake Effect.