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Virtual Author Event: Richard Rothstein on The Color of Law

A "Palo Alto Reads" Event
Thursday, August 27, 2020 - 7:00pm to 8:30pm

Join us for a virtual conversation with author Richard Rothstein who will discuss his book, “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America.” An acclaimed and powerful explication of racial segregation, the book has been selected as the first title for the Palo Alto Library’s virtual Palo Alto Reads series. A “one book, one community” program, Palo Alto Reads is a joint partnership between the Palo Alto Library and the City of Palo Alto’s Race & Equity Initiative. It encourages the reading and discussion of a selected book to foster community conversation about themes and topics relevant to our city. The history of our city’s segregation is a great starting point to discuss ongoing inequities in our community, and explore solutions together.

Rothstein will be joined in conversation by Ralph Richard Banks, professor of law at the Stanford Law School.

This author event is sponsored by the Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University, and co-hosted by the Bill Lane Center, the Palo Alto Library and the City of Palo Alto.

Synopsis of the book:

Racial segregation characterizes every metropolitan area in the U.S. and bears responsibility for our most serious social and economic problems – it corrupts our criminal justice system, exacerbates economic inequality, and produces large academic gaps between white and African American schoolchildren. We’ve taken no serious steps to desegregate neighborhoods, however, because we are hobbled by a national myth that residential segregation is de facto—the result of private discrimination or personal choices that do not violate constitutional rights. The Color of Law demonstrates, however, that residential segregation was created by racially explicit and unconstitutional government policy in the mid-twentieth century that openly subsidized whites-only suburbanization in which African Americans were prohibited from participating. Only after learning the history of this policy can we be prepared to undertake the national conversation necessary to remedy our unconstitutional racial landscape.

About the Author:

Richard Rothstein
Distinguished Fellow, The Economic Policy Institute

Richard Rothstein is a Distinguished Fellow of the Economic Policy Institute and a fellow of the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and of the Haas Institute at the University of California (Berkeley). He is the author of New York Times bestseller, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How our Government Segregated America.The book expands upon and provides a national perspective on his recent work that has documented the history of state-sponsored residential segregation, as in his report, The Making of Ferguson. He is the author of Grading Education: Getting Accountability Right (2008) and Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic and Educational Reform to Close the Black-White Achievement Gap(2004). He is also the author of The Way We Were? Myths and Realities of America’s Student Achievement(1998). Other recent books include The Charter School Dust-Up: Examining the Evidence on Enrollment and Achievement(co-authored in 2005); and All Else Equal: Are Public and Private Schools Different?(co-authored in 2003). He welcomes comments at




Ralph Richard Banks
Jackson Eli Reynolds Professor Law, Stanford Law School

Banks has been a member of the Stanford faculty since 1998. Prior to joining the law school, he practiced law at O’Melveny & Myers, was the Reginald F. Lewis Fellow at Harvard Law School and clerked for a federal judge, the Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr. (then of the Southern District of New York). Professor Banks teaches and writes about family law, employment discrimination law and race and the law. He is the author of Is Marriage for White People? How the African American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone. At Stanford, he is affiliated with the Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research, the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and the Ethnicity, the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education and the Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality.


Event Sponsor: 
The City of Palo Alto
Palo Alto City Library
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