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2018 Keynote speakers

Day 1: Mr. Richard Rothstein

Mr. Richard Rothstein is the author of The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How our Government Segregated America, a Distinguished Fellow of the Economic Policy Institute, and a Senior Fellow, emeritus, at the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and of the Haas Institute at the University of California (Berkeley). In THE COLOR OF LAW, Rothstein argues with exacting precision and fascinating insight how segregation in America—the incessant kind that continues to dog our major cities and has contributed to so much recent social strife—is the byproduct of explicit government policies at the local, state, and federal level. To scholars and social critics, racism in our neighborhoods has long been viewed as a manifestation of unscrupulous real estate agents, unethical mortgage lenders, and exclusionary covenants working outside the law. This is what is commonly known as “de facto segregated," practices that were the outcome of private, not legal or public policy, means. Yet, as Rothstein breaks down in case after case, until the last quarter of the twentieth century de facto paled in comparison to de jure (government-sponsored) segregation. A former columnist for the New York Times and a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute, as well as a Fellow at the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Rothstein has spent years documenting the evidence that government not merely ignored discriminatory practices in the residential sphere, but promoted them. The impact has been devastating for generations of African-Americans who were denied the right to live where they wanted to live, and raise and school their children where they thought best. While the Fair Housing Act in 1968 provided modest enforcement to prevent future discrimination, it did nothing to reverse or undo a century's worth of state-sanctioned violations of the Bill of Rights, particularly the Thirteenth Amendment which banned treating former slaves as second-class citizens. So the structural conditions established by 20th century federal policy endure to this day. At every step of the way, Rothstein demonstrates, the government and our courts upheld racist policies to maintain the separation of whites and blacks. Leading to the powder keg which has defined Ferguson, Baltimore, Charleston, and Chicago. THE COLOR OF LAW is not a tale of Red versus Blue states. It is sadly the story of America in all of its municipalities, large and small, liberal and reactionary. The book recovers 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. He is also the author of Grading Education: Getting Accountability Right (2008); Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic and Educational Reform to Close the Black-White Achievement Gap (2004); and 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 riroth@epi.org.

Day 2: Dr. Matthew Whitaker

Matthew C. Whitaker, Ph.D., is an award-winning educator, author, equity and inclusion specialist, motivational speaker, Director of Equity and Inclusion at Brophy College Preparatory, and founder of Diamond Strategies, LLC, a full-service diversity, equity, and inclusion firm. He is the winner of the 2014 Arizona Diversity Leadership Alliance (DLA) Inclusive Workplace Award at Arizona State University, where he was a professor of history for 16 years. In 2016, he received DLA's Diversity and Inclusion Leader Award. He has edited three books, including Hurricane Katrina: America's Unnatural Disaster, and is the author of Race Work: The Rise of Civil Rights in the Urban West, the only book devoted entirely to the civil rights movement in the Greater Phoenix area. Dr. Whitaker has won over 30 awards and has consulted, spoken and lectured in Africa, Australia, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, England, Ghana and Ireland. He been featured on CNN, NPR, PBS, WVON, KEMET, and was given ASU's 2015 Pioneer Award for working to improve African-American life, community and culture. He is also a co-founder of the Healing Racism Public Dialogue Series, winner of the 2008 National League of Cities Promoting Inclusiveness Award, and the City of Phoenix 2006 Martin Luther King, Jr. Living the Dream Award. He serves as a trustee of the Cancer Support Community of Arizona, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Community Advisory Board, the East Valley Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration, Inc., and the East Valley NAACP.


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