Photo by Defining Studios, Hartford, CT, 2016
On April 21, the Connecticut Fair Housing Center hosted a panel in Hartford’s downtown on housing integration that included Trinity College Professor Jack Dougherty (middle left), author Lisa Belkin (middle right), and Hartford City Councilwoman Wildaliz Bermudez (far right). Pinch hitting for Professor Jelani Cobb, Trinity Director of Urban Educational Initiatives, Robert Cotto (far left) moderated the panel. The panel served as a public, community conversation on housing integration before the Center’s annual awards dinner.
Before the panel, Professor Dougherty presented an 15-minute introduction to housing and school segregation in the Hartford, CT area based on his research and book-in-progress, On the Line: How Schooling, Housing, and Civil Rights Shaped Hartford and its Suburbs. He offered slides that showed the close connection between housing restrictions that segregated neighborhoods by race and class, which resulted in school segregation.
After the presentation, the panel weaved together Dougherty’s work on housing and schools, Belkin’s account of a housing desegregation case in Yonkers, NY, and Bermudez’s community activism and involvement as an early plaintiff in the Sheff v. O’Neill school desegregation case.
As the CT Fair Housing Center 2016 Loving Civil Rights Award recipient, Lisa Belkin drew on her research and writing of “Show Me A Hero”. The book chronicled the contentious housing desegregation case in Yonkers, NY in the 1980s. An adaptation of the book also recently appeared as a mini-series on the HBO channel.
Throughout the afternoon, the audience of roughly 75 people had opportunities to ask the panelists questions. This generated a great deal of discussion. In the end, comparing efforts in Hartford, CT (school desegregation) with Yonkers, NY (housing desegregation) helped the audience understand each case better, along with the history and persisting challenges towards racial integration of housing and schools.
Additional photographs can be found at the CT Fair Housing Center Facebook page here.