Photo Credit: Connecticut Historical Society Collection (1988.142.3)

The Two Connecticuts:

Conversations about Race and Place

A four-part series presented by:

George Orwell reminded us that it is a constant struggle to see what is right in front of our noses. In Connecticut that is racial and economic segregation.

This multi-faceted, multi-generational history of discrimination has ensured that lower-income households, predominantly families of color, remain segregated in urban centers, while white families enjoy suburban amenities and top public schools. The pandemic has only amplified this disparity.

This special series examines how segregation affects people of color — depriving them of personal dignity, economic opportunity, and access to healthcare and safety — yet also disadvantages the state as a whole. Over four sessions, panels of informed experts examine the racism that surrounds us, in housing, schools, and the structure of our government.

Join us to learn more about the disparities that exist in our state, and what you can do about them. We talk about initiatives enacted in other states and proposed here in Connecticut, so that all participants have the opportunity to join the effort to reduce these disparities where they live.


A House Divided
Wednesday, September 22

William Tong, Attorney General for the State of Connecticut.
Jay Williams, President of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving

Guest Presentation by:
Dana Peterson, Executive Vice President and Chief Economist, Conference Board; Co-author of a 2020 Citibank study, “Closing the Racial Inequality Gaps: The Economic Cost of Black Inequality in the U.S.”

Lucy Nalpathanchil, Executive Producer and Host, WNPR’s Where We Live talk show. Moderator.

This session defines and examines racism – how it alienates, isolates, and otherwise keeps people of color from reaching their potential and being welcomed into the other Connecticut. It also takes a close look at how racism negatively affects our economy.


We hope the conversation does not end just with this one program. We are providing some additional readings of interest and also some organizations that are working on this issue of racial and economic inequality. Please join us in continuing progress toward a One Connecticut future. 

Closing the Racial Inequality Gaps: The Economic Cost of Black Inequality in the U.S.
The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America
The Case for Reparations
What are the Effects of Racism on Health and Mental Health?
A Brief History of How Racism Shaped Interstate Highways
A Steady Habit of Segregation: The Origins and Continuing Harm of Separate and Unequal Housing and Schools in Metropolitan Hartford, Connecticut
Connecticut Town Equity Reports

Center for Leadership and Justice
Desegregate CT
Forge City Works
Hands on Hartford
Open Communities Alliance
Poverty & Race Research Action Council
Urban League of Greater Hartford

Wednesday, October 20

Sara Bronin, Founder/lead organizer of Desegregate CT
Jim Perras, CEO of Connecticut’s Home Builders and Remodelers Association
Karen Dubois-Walton, President of the Elm City Communities/Housing Authority


Jacqueline Rabe Thomas, Investigative Reporter with Connecticut Public’s Accountability Project

In Connecticut, exclusionary zoning is a major element of systemic racism. Many suburban towns perpetuate the Two Connecticuts by zoning out affordable housing. This year has seen a major pushback against exclusionary zoning in the General Assembly and the courts. This session looks at the battle for affordable housing in the suburbs and for improved housing in cities.


Here are some additional readings of interest and some organizations that are working on the issue of housing inequality.
Offered by the creative team behind The Two Connecticuts: Conversations on Race and Place


In Recovering Urban Areas, Home Ownership Makes All the Difference
A Steady Habit of Segregation:  The Origins and Continuing Harm of Separate and Unequal Housing and Schools in Metropolitan Hartford, Connecticut
Best Practices for Ending Exclusive Single Family Zoning
California Zoning Reform: Are Form-Based Codes the Answer?
Connecticut Town Equity Reports
Connecticut Zoning Atlas
Connecticut Housing Assessment:  Current and Future Trends in Affordable and Accessible Housing Supply and Needs
Desegregate Connecticut: Studies and Reports
Housing Mobility Programs in the U.S. 2020
An Anti-Racist Agenda for State and Local Housing Agencies
Recruiting Opportunity Landlords


Center for Leadership and Justice
Community Solutions
Connecticut Fair Housing Center
Desegregate CT
Legislation at the General Assembly 
Local Initiatives Support Corporation
Open Communities Alliance
Partnership for Strong Communities
Poverty and Race Research Action Council
Urban League of Greater Hartford

Wednesday, November 10

Claudia Tenaglia, Social Studies teacher at Dwight-Bellizzi 
Dual Language Academy
Ruth-Terry Walden, Literature teacher at Westhill High School
Jack Dougherty, Professor of Educational Studies at
Trinity College


Bilal Sekou, Associate Professor of Political Science,
Hillyer College at the University of Hartford

Once points of pride, the public schools in Connecticut’s largest cities deteriorated in the latter part of the 20th century, as the middle class, mostly whites, fled to the suburbs. But a child’s zip code should not determine that child’s destiny. For decades, people of good will have been trying to improve city schools, with some success. For example, the Sheff v. O’Neill lawsuit helped many youngsters get a better education, but still left thousands behind in struggling neighborhood schools. Today policy makers must provide equitable education, decrease disparities between urban and suburban school districts, and prepare young people for the 21st century economy. This session examines efforts to improve educational  equity, teaching, parental involvement, and other challenges. How does this get better? More funding? More regional education programs? A better urban economy? What is working? What hasn’t worked?


To assist you in learning more and joining the effort to reduce educational inequality, here are some additional readings of interest and some organizations that are working on the issue.


Data Haven: Hartford 2021 Equity Profile
Brown Center Chalkboard: 7 Findings that Illustrate Racial Disparities in Education
Making the Grade 2021: How Fair is School Funding in your State?
On The Line: How Schooling, Housing, and Civil Rights Shaped Hartford and its Suburbs
Connecticut State Department of Education – School Choice 
Left Behind: 20 Years After Sheff v. O’Neill, Students Struggle In Hartford’s Segregated Neighborhood Schools
School Choice Lottery a Mystery for Parents as Desegregation Efforts Stall
Milestone agreement in Sheff vs. O’Neill school desegregation case adds 1,000 magnet school seats to ease racial isolation of Hartford students
Promoting Equity in Schools is a Critical Goal


The National Coalition on School Diversity
Anti-racist Teaching and Learning Collective
School & State Finance Project
The Sheff Movement
Achieve Hartford!
All In!

Wednesday, December 8

Majority Leader, State House of Representatives, Jason Rojas
The Reverend Trevor Beauford, Senior Pastor at Union Baptist Church in Hartford
Tom Condon, Urban and Regional Issues Reporter at the Connecticut Mirror


John Dankosky, Director of Events at the Connecticut Mirror

Connecticut’s urban poor are circumscribed by city lines drawn hundreds of years ago, boundaries that confer extraordinary privilege on the state’s more affluent residents. Critics say it is unfair and inefficient, and perpetuates the underlying racism of the Two Connecticuts. Do we have the courage and imagination to consider regional policy-making, tax-sharing, or even regional governance? If we did, what would it look like?


To assist you in learning more, here are some additional readings of interest on the subject of regionalism.


Amid fiscal perils, will the state embrace regionalism?

Want to prosper? Act like a region, proponents say

A proposal that could empower state’s metros

Opportunity neighborhoods: Building the foundation for economic mobility in America’s metros 

Has regionalism’s time finally come?

Covet not thy neighbor’s police

Tracking land cover change in Connecticut

Connecticut property taxes 2015: Time for a change

Three measures seek to promote regional sharing, cost savings

The need to act regionally has never been more important

Five takeaways from a city-county merger plan that never got to voters


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