Just Economy Session – Richard Rothstein

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

Online Event Archive Recorded June 9, 2020 

Systemic racism segregated Black communities from White and, starting at least in the 1930s, defined where banks would lend money – and where they wouldn’t. The long-term consequences of what became known as “redlining” are still seen and felt in lower-income communities today.

How did that happen? How did lending discrimination in the past contribute to the racial wealth divide that centered the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020? Listen to Richard Rothstein, author of the groundbreaking book on the history of redlining, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How our Government Segregated America


Richard Rothstein 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. The Color of Law covers a forgotten history of how federal, state and local policy explicitly segregated metropolitan areas nationwide, creating racially homogenous neighborhoods in patterns that violate the Constitution and require remediation.

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Redlining and Neighborhood Health

Before the pandemic devastated minority communities, banks and government officials starved them of capital.

Lower-income and minority neighborhoods that were intentionally cut off from lending and investment decades ago today suffer not only from reduced wealth and greater poverty, but from lower life expectancy and higher prevalence of chronic diseases that are risk factors for poor outcomes from COVID-19, a new study shows.

The new study, from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) with researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health and the University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab, compared 1930’s maps of government-sanctioned lending discrimination zones with current census and public health data.

Table of Content

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Redlining, the HOLC Maps and Segregation
  • Segregation, Public Health and COVID-19
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion and Policy Recommendations
  • Citations
  • Appendix

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