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 will examine 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 will 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 will 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.

Sessions

A House Divided
Wednesday, September 22
7:00-8:15p.m.

Panelists:
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.”

Moderator:
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 will take a close look at how racism negatively affects our economy.

SESSION 1 RECORDING

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. 

SUGGESTED READINGS
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

RESOURCE ORGANIZATIONS
Center for Leadership and Justice
www.idealist.org
Desegregate CT
www.desegregatect.org
Forge City Works
www.forgecityworks.org
Hands on Hartford
www.handsonhartford.org/
Open Communities Alliance
www.ctoca.org
Poverty & Race Research Action Council
www.prrac.org
Urban League of Greater Hartford
www.ulgh.org


Housing
Wednesday, October 20
7:00-8:15p.m.

Panelists:
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

Moderator:

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.

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. 

SUGGESTED READINGS

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

RESOURCE ORGANIZATIONS

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


Education
Wednesday, November 10
7:00-8:15p.m.


Panelists:
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

Moderator:

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 middle-class people, mostly whites, fled to the suburbs. Yet schools in the state’s population centers must provide equitable education and prepare workers for our 21st century economy. This session looks at efforts to improve funding, teaching, and parental involvement, and at models that are working.


Regionalism
Wednesday, December 8
7:00-8:15p.m.

Panelists:
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

Moderator:

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?

Series Information

Free registration (must register to attend).

Dates:
Wednesday, September 22
Wednesday, October 20
Wednesday, November 10
Wednesday, December 8

1st Session: Virtual. A link will be sent once you have registered.

Location for 2nd – 4th Sessions:
In-person capacity for sessions two, three and four on the University of Hartford campus has been reached, however, registration to join us virtually is still open. 

Resource Information: 6:30 p.m. (sessions 2-4 only)

Program: 7:00 p.m. – 8:15 p.m.

Third Age Initiative™
Click for more information 

More about the series

The Two Connecticuts can be measured statistically. Nearly 70 percent of Black residents live in just 12 municipalities.

Also, people of color suffered disproportionally higher rates of Covid-19 illness and death over the past 15 months, Black-owned businesses took a much harder hit than white-owned businesses, Black and Latinx children suffered more severe educational setbacks, and Blacks had to endure police violence in many cities across the country, incidents that gave emphasis to the Black Lives Matter movement.

And yet, Black and Latinx communities provided countless front-line workers in health care, retail, shipping, and other fields essential to getting everyone through the pandemic. Are front-line workers not owed more than a sign on the lawn?

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