The Racial Policies that Built Ferguson (and Baltimore and Flint)

The Racial Policies that Built Ferguson (and Baltimore and Flint)

Session Type(s): Panel

Starts: Friday, Jul. 15 2:00 PM (Eastern)

Ends: Friday, Jul. 15 3:15 PM (Eastern)

Government actions such as racially explicit zoning, public housing segregation and federal requirements for white-only suburbs systematically segregated African Americans—setting the stage for the protests and racial tension following Michael Brown’s death. Join us for a conversation about how truly moving forward as a nation will require addressing the century of public policy that created our segregated metropolises. Remedies for our racial problems will be unlikely unless we understand how this racial landscape was created.


Chris King


Chris King is managing editor of The St. Louis American, which has been awarded for general excellence, in his tenure, at the state, national and international levels, including five consecutive national awards for general excellence (2012-2016) from the NNPA, the black press trade association. During the Ferguson unrest, he was a frequent analyst on CNN “New Day,” the BBC and CTV. His journalism also has been published in The New York Times, Washington Post and The Nation, and his poetry and prose have appeared in TriQuarterly (Northwestern University), Transition (Harvard University) and Quadrant (Sydney, Australia). Read him on Twitter @chriskingstl.


Sherrilyn Ifill


Sherrilyn Ifill is the seventh President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. After graduating law school, Ms. Ifill served first as a fellow at the American Civil Liberties Union and then for five years as an Assistant Counsel in LDF’s New York office, where she litigated voting rights cases. During her tenure at LDF, Ms. Ifill litigated numerous cases including the landmark Voting Rights Act case Houston Lawyers’ Association vs. Attorney General of Texas, in which the Supreme Court held that judicial elections are covered by the provisions of section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. In 1993, Ms. Ifill left LDF to join the faculty of the University of the Maryland School of Law, where, in addition to teaching Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law and variety of seminars, she continued to litigate and consult on a broad and diverse range of civil rights cases. While at Maryland she developed an environmental justice clinical offering and co-founded one of the first legal clinics in the nation focused on removing legal barriers to formerly incarcerated persons seeking to responsibly re-enter society.

Since returning to LDF, Ifill has increased the visibility and engagement of the organization in cutting edge and urgent civil rights issues including policing reform, the Detroit water crisis and transportation inequity. At critical moments during national unrest in 2014, Ifill’s voice and vision framed the issue of policing reform and urban deprivation with powerful clarity in media appearances, op-eds and speeches. She is a sought-after speaker and strategist whose counsel is sought by government officials, civic and community leaders and national civil rights colleagues.

A critically acclaimed author, her book “On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the 21st Century,” reflects her lifelong engagement in and analysis of issues of race and American public life. Ifill is the immediate past Chair of the Board of U.S. Programs at the Open Society Institute, one of the largest philanthropic supporters of civil rights and social justice organizations in the country. She currently serves on the global board of the Open Society Foundations, and on the board of Equal Justice Works, the National Constitution Center and the Learning Policy Institute. Ms. Ifill is a graduate of Vassar College, and received her J.D. from New York University School of Law.

Richard Rothstein


RICHARD ROTHSTEIN is a research associate 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). His recent work 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). His many articles on racial and educational issues can be found at He welcomes comments at

my website