PRRAC in the South:  We are grateful for our recent opportunities to engage with communities in Mississippi and Alabama. It is especially valuable for civil rights lawyers to return to the places where the laws we rely on originated, and to see Southern communities acknowledging their racial histories in ways the North is still struggling to do.  
In Hattiesburg, our initial community work on Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing evolved into an exploration of community racial history, and specifically the desegregation of two local colleges and the city school system in the 1960s.  We researched and helped organize a community forum last year to explore this history with some of the residents who lived through that time along with a group of current high school students, and we returned last month to screen a short documentary based on these reflections, titled "It's Time to Listen."  Special thanks to the Mississippi Center for Justice for their support and introductions in the community, and to Georgetown law student Tanesha Williams, who grew up in Hattiesburg and helped our staff with outreach in the community.
In Selma, we co-sponsored a forum on "Fair Housing Intersections" with an extraordinary organization called the Selma Center for Nonviolence, Truth & Reconciliation, which is affiliated with the Black Belt Foundation and the Kellogg Foundation's Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation initiative. Our forum brought together activists and lawyers from across the state to explore the interconnections between housing, education, transportation, and environmental injustice.  One of the highlights of the day was PRRAC board member Damon Hewitt's interview with Selma natives Bruce and Betty Boynton. As a law student at Howard University, Bruce Boynton stopped on his way home for lunch in a whites only bus station restaurant in Richmond. Boynton became the arrestee and plaintiff in Boynton v. Virginia (1960), a case that helped inspire the Freedom Rides and eventually led to the desegregation of bus and train stations throughout the south. Special thanks to PRRAC consultant Leslie Proll and Ainka Jackson (director of the Center) for their help in pulling the forum together. 

Housing mobility gets a boost in St. Louis:  "For the Sake of All," a foundation and university-supported initiative developed in the aftermath of the Ferguson uprising, has released its long anticipated report, Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide. The report includes an in-depth review of the history of segregation and disinvestment in the St. Louis region, and an analysis of the detrimental impacts of segregation across all aspects of life in the region.  In addition to ambitious community reinvestment recommendations, the report also calls for renewed attempts at desegregation, including increased support for the "Mobility Connection" program sponsored by the St. Louis city and county housing authorities for low-income families with Housing Choice Vouchers. The Mobility Connection is one of the programs that PRRAC has been working with for the last two years as part of our Mobility Works technical assistance project.

In memoriam - Arnold Hirsch: 
We were saddened to learn of the recent passing of Arnold Hirsch, one of the leading historians of America's history of deliberate racial segregation.  In honor of his legacy, we have re-released our 2004 Ford Foundation-funded collection of historical studies of government involvement in segregation in America, led by Hirsch's study, "The Last and Most Difficult Barrier": Segregation and Federal Housing Policy in the Eisenhower Administration, 1953-1960.

SAVE the new date:
 For logistical reasons, the national housing mobility conference has been rescheduled from June to October 16-17, in Washington DC. Details coming soon!

(If you received this newsletter from a colleague, you can sign up here
for more biweekly PRRAC Updates)

You can support PRRAC here.

740 15th St. NW #300
Washington, DC 20005