'Color of Law' Up Next For Reading Group

The Racial Justice Issues group of 50 Ways Rockbridge is pleased to announce the next installment in the series “Rockbridge Reads About Race,” featuring a discussion of Richard Rothstein’s book, “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America.” The event is slated for Tuesday, Feb. 25, at 6:30 p.m. in the Piovano Room of the Rockbridge Regional Library.

Veteran Lexington City Councilwoman and longtime fair housing advocate Marylin Alexander will lead the discussion of “The Color of Law,” which deals with the history of U.S. government’s policies that perpetuated residential segregation for generations. The meeting is free and open to the public.

“The Color of Law” was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2017. Former U.S. chief economist Jared Bernstein praises Rothstein’s “meticulous research showing how governments at all levels long employed racially discriminatory policies to deny blacks the opportunity to live in neighborhoods with jobs, good schools and upward mobility.”

For Alexander, who has worked for the Rockbridge Area Housing Corporation for 21 years, “The Color of Law” expands readers’ understanding of how and why inequality has persisted for so long. “The book is not only a discovery about housing specifically, but how discrimination in housing is one of the many vestiges of slavery,” Alexander said. “Laws have changed the housing industry but many hearts and minds of people down through the many generations have not.

Alexander’s long experience helping families in Lexington has given her an invaluable window on the issues discussed in the book. Her goal in leading the discussion during Black History Month is to offer an opportunity for the local community to examine and reflect on itself.

“It is crucial that we are aware of what has happened all around us. We don’t want Lexington to repeat history any more than what it may have already,” she said. “This book makes me even more curious about our own local surroundings and how our neighborhoods originated and got so distinctly divided. If mistakes were made, we must own them and learn from them.

Thanks to the generosity of community member Jeanne Wilson, multiple copies of the book are available for loan at the library.

50 Ways Rockbridge is a community organization in Rockbridge County that works to research, educate, and act on major issues that affect all of the 50 United States, especially Virginia and the Rockbridge area.

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