Just Action: How to challenge housing segregation and build people-centered communities

In Massachusetts, today, our communities are more segregated by race and class than they were in the 1980s. What are the policies and strategies that advocates can pursue to improve resources in lower-income segregated areas, open up exclusive suburban neighborhoods to diversity, and improve housing opportunities everywhere? 

With searing clarity, The Color of Law documented how American cities, from San Francisco to Boston, became so racially divided, as federal, state, and local governments systematically imposed residential segregation. The Color of Law recounted how governments at all levels created segregation.

Richard Rothstein’s latest publication, Just Action describes how we can begin to undo it. Just Action describes how local groups can form and learn about their region’s history and then offers dozens of policies and strategies they can pursue to enact progress.  

What has desegregation activism looked like in Boston and how can advocates, municipal officials and organizations come together to put the lessons recounted in Color of Law into practice? Dr. Karilyn Crockett’s seminal publication People before Highways offers ground-level analysis of the social, political, and environmental significance of a local anti-highway protest and its lasting national implications. Dr. Crockett will share the story of how an unlikely multiracial coalition of urban and suburban residents, planners, and activists emerged to stop an interstate highway that was poised to exacerbate inequality for communities of color in Boston. The aftermath? A linear central city park, and a highway-less urban corridor that serves as a daily reminder of the power and efficacy of citizen-led city making.

Both People before Highways and Just Action show how community groups can fight back against policies that imposed segregation to finally take responsibility for reversing the harm, creating victories that might finally challenge residential segregation and help remedy America’s profoundly unconstitutional past.


Copies of both publications will be made available, free of charge, to the first one hundred registrants. Logistics regarding book pickup will be emailed to registrants. Please Note: All free copies are no longer available. 

Speaking remarks, panel discussion and Q&A will be preceded by a one hour social reception. Light refreshments and hors d’oeuvres will be served.

Location: Temple Beth Zion -1566 Beacon Street, Brookline, MA 02446

(We encourage using public transportation for traveling to our event. Temple Beth Zion is an easy walk from Coolidge Corner and Washington Square T stops. Parking is on-street only, with metered and non-metered spaces in the area, as well as handicapped spots directly in front.)

Date & Time: September 7th at 6:30 P.M.

Speaker Bios

Richard Rothstein is the co-author of JUST ACTION: How to Challenge Segregation Enacted Under the Color of Law and author of THE COLOR OF LAW: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America. He also writes a regular column to which you can subscribe for free at JustAction.substack.com. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the Economic Policy Institute, and Senior Fellow (Emeritus) of the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. He is the author of many other articles and books on race and education, which can be found at his web page at the Economic Policy Institute.

Dr. Karilyn Crockett’s research focuses on large-scale land use changes in twentieth century American cities and examines the social and geographic implications of structural poverty. Karilyn’s new book “People before Highways: Boston Activists, Urban Planners, and a New Movement for City Making” (UMASS Press 2018) investigates a 1960s era grassroots movement to halt urban extension of the U.S. interstate highway system and the geographic and political changes in Boston that resulted. Karilyn was the co-founder of Multicultural Youth Tour of What’s Now (MYTOWN), an award winning, Boston-based, educational nonprofit organization. MYTOWN hired public high school students to research their local and family histories to produce youth-led walking tours for sale to public audiences. During its nearly 15 years of operation, MYTOWN created jobs for more than 300 low and moderate-income teenagers, who in turn led public walking tours for more than 14,000 visitors and residents. In a White House ceremony, the National Endowment for the Humanities cited MYTOWN as “One of ten best Youth Humanities Programs in America.” Karilyn holds a PhD from the American Studies program at Yale University, a Master of Science in Geography from the London School of Economics, and a Master of Arts and Religion from Yale Divinity School. Karilyn recently concluded four years of service with the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development as the Director of Economic Policy & Research and the Director of Small Business Development for the City of Boston. She is currently a Lecturer in Public Policy & Urban Planning in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies & Planning. Karilyn’s career mission is to continue to work at the nexus of education, economic development and urban revitalization.

Abdallah Fayyad is a journalist serving on The Boston Globe editorial board. He previously worked for The Atlantic and covered the George Floyd protests in Washington, D.C., for DCist and WAMU. In 2022, he was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist for a series he wrote on reforming the American presidency.



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