Massachusetts is often heralded as the home of the abolition movement and one of the first states to abolish slavery. Yet the Commonwealth’s economy developed in collaboration with states that claimed people as property. This series explores how enslavement and white supremacy shaped the history of Massachusetts and how they continue to shape its present. From the first program “Slavery and Wealth Creation” to the final event “The Charles Stuart Story: White Lies and Black Lives,” the series asks us all to understand, acknowledge, and confront racial injustice.

Developed by the Northeastern University School of Law Criminal Justice Task Force, Confronting Racial Injustice is a free, five-part series hosted by the Massachusetts Historical Society and sponsored by a number of Boston-area organizations.

March 2021
Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Winter_2021/1611a446784b4602bd7f217d835770c1.jpg Racial Injustice Series Confronting Racial Injustice: Redlining: From Slavery to $8 in 400 Years 11 March 2021.Thursday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM This is an online program Lew Finfer, Massachusetts Community Action Network; Stephen Gray, Harvard Graduate School of Design; and moderator Adrian Walker, Boston Globe In 2015, the Boston Federal Reserve found the median net worth for Black families in Boston was $8, ...

In 2015, the Boston Federal Reserve found the median net worth for Black families in Boston was $8, in stark contrast to $250,000 for white families. This discrepancy is largely driven by the gap in home ownership. Join community activists and urban planners as they discuss Boston’s history of redlining and discriminatory housing policies, the complicity of the banks and the real estate industry, and the consequent legacy of segregation and racial wealth disparity. We will also identify some specific actions we can take to address the inequities in home ownership.

Moderator:

Adrian Walker, Columnist, The Boston Globe

Speakers:

Lewis Finfer, Co-Director, Massachusetts Communities Action Network; Stephen Gray, Associate Professor of Urban Design, Harvard Graduate School of Design

 

 

Image courtesy of "Mapping Inequality":

Robert K. Nelson, LaDale Winling, Richard Marciano, Nathan Connolly, et al., “Mapping Inequality,” American Panorama, ed. Robert K. Nelson and Edward L. Ayers, accessed January 14, 2021, https://dsl.richmond.edu/panorama/redlining/

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April 2021
Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Winter_2021/School_desegratation.jpg Racial Injustice Series Confronting Racial Injustice: Boston School Desegregation through the Rearview Mirror 15 April 2021.Thursday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM This is an online program Martha Minow, Harvard Law School; Becky Shuster, Boston Public Schools; Rachel E. Twymon; and moderator Matthew F. Delmont, Dartmouth College In 1972, a group of African American parents sued city and state officials over segregation within ...

In 1972, a group of African American parents sued city and state officials over segregation within the Boston Public Schools. After a trial, a federal court determined that the Boston School Committee had intentionally discriminated on the basis of race by operating a dual school system that extended to school assignments, facilities, and staffing. When officials failed to produce a timely remedy, the court ordered institutional reforms, including re-districting and the re-assignment of students. In this program, panelists will reflect on the lessons to be learned from Boston’s school desegregation experience.

Moderator:

Matthew F. Delmont, Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor of History, Dartmouth College

Speakers:

Martha Minow, 300th Anniversary University Professor, Harvard University, and Former Dean, Harvard Law School; Becky Shuster, Assistant Superintendent of Equity, Boston Public School; Rachel E. Twymon, whose family was profiled in J. Anthony Lukas’ Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Common Ground

 

 

 

 

Image courtesy of Spencer Grant.

 

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May 2021
Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/ConcordHC-IMG-0823.jpg Racial Injustice Series Confronting Racial Injustice: The War on Drugs in Massachusetts: The Racial Impact of the School Zone Law and Other Mandatory Minimum Sentences 19 May 2021.Wednesday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM This is an online program Sen. William N. Brownsberger; Abrigal Forrester, Center for Teen Empowerment; Rahsaan D. Hall, ACLU of Massachusetts; Deborah A. Ramirez, Northeastern University School of Law; and moderator Hon. Sydney Hanlon In the 1980s, Massachusetts embraced the War on Drugs, enacting harsh mandatory minimum sentences ...

In the 1980s, Massachusetts embraced the War on Drugs, enacting harsh mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses. It took decades to confront the reality that, in addition to being ineffective and costly, mandatory minimums resulted in the pervasive and disproportionate incarceration of Black and Brown people. Panelists will discuss this troubling history, recent reforms, and the prospects for implementing drug policies that are effective, fair, and just.

Moderator:

Hon. Sydney Hanlon, Massachusetts Appeals Court

Speaker:

Sen. William N. Brownsberger, Second Suffolk & Middlesex District; Abrigal Forrester, Executive Director, Center for Teen Empowerment; Rahsaan D. Hall, Director of the Racial Justice Program, American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts; Deborah A. Ramirez, Professor, Northeastern University School of Law

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June 2021
Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Winter_2021/thumbnail_Stuart_Graphic_-_hands.jpg Racial Injustice Series Confronting Racial Injustice: The Charles Stuart Story: White Lies and Black Lives 9 June 2021.Wednesday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM This is an online program Angela Onwuachi-Willig, Dean, Boston University School of Law; Hon. Leslie Harris (ret.), Suffolk Juvenile Court; Renée Graham, Columnist, The Boston Globe; moderated by Kim McLaurin, Associate Dean, Suffolk University Law School Charles Stuart, a white man, murdered his wife and unborn child in Boston in 1989 and falsely blamed ...

Charles Stuart, a white man, murdered his wife and unborn child in Boston in 1989 and falsely blamed the attack on a nonexistent Black man. Believing Stuart’s lie, the police engaged in a massive manhunt that terrorized a Black community in Mission Hill with detention, public strip-searches, and the arrest of two innocent men. As some lawmakers demanded the death penalty, the media perpetuated this false story. The Stuart case exemplifies how the narrative of white supremacy continues to lead to the dehumanization and devaluation of Black lives. Widespread acceptance of white lies over Black lives persists today.

 

 

 

 

More
Racial Injustice Series Confronting Racial Injustice: Redlining: From Slavery to $8 in 400 Years Register registration required at no cost 11 March 2021.Thursday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM This is an online program Lew Finfer, Massachusetts Community Action Network; Stephen Gray, Harvard Graduate School of Design; and moderator Adrian Walker, Boston Globe Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Winter_2021/1611a446784b4602bd7f217d835770c1.jpg

In 2015, the Boston Federal Reserve found the median net worth for Black families in Boston was $8, in stark contrast to $250,000 for white families. This discrepancy is largely driven by the gap in home ownership. Join community activists and urban planners as they discuss Boston’s history of redlining and discriminatory housing policies, the complicity of the banks and the real estate industry, and the consequent legacy of segregation and racial wealth disparity. We will also identify some specific actions we can take to address the inequities in home ownership.

Moderator:

Adrian Walker, Columnist, The Boston Globe

Speakers:

Lewis Finfer, Co-Director, Massachusetts Communities Action Network; Stephen Gray, Associate Professor of Urban Design, Harvard Graduate School of Design

 

 

Image courtesy of "Mapping Inequality":

Robert K. Nelson, LaDale Winling, Richard Marciano, Nathan Connolly, et al., “Mapping Inequality,” American Panorama, ed. Robert K. Nelson and Edward L. Ayers, accessed January 14, 2021, https://dsl.richmond.edu/panorama/redlining/

close

Racial Injustice Series Confronting Racial Injustice: Boston School Desegregation through the Rearview Mirror Register registration required at no cost 15 April 2021.Thursday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM This is an online program Martha Minow, Harvard Law School; Becky Shuster, Boston Public Schools; Rachel E. Twymon; and moderator Matthew F. Delmont, Dartmouth College Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Winter_2021/School_desegratation.jpg

In 1972, a group of African American parents sued city and state officials over segregation within the Boston Public Schools. After a trial, a federal court determined that the Boston School Committee had intentionally discriminated on the basis of race by operating a dual school system that extended to school assignments, facilities, and staffing. When officials failed to produce a timely remedy, the court ordered institutional reforms, including re-districting and the re-assignment of students. In this program, panelists will reflect on the lessons to be learned from Boston’s school desegregation experience.

Moderator:

Matthew F. Delmont, Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor of History, Dartmouth College

Speakers:

Martha Minow, 300th Anniversary University Professor, Harvard University, and Former Dean, Harvard Law School; Becky Shuster, Assistant Superintendent of Equity, Boston Public School; Rachel E. Twymon, whose family was profiled in J. Anthony Lukas’ Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Common Ground

 

 

 

 

Image courtesy of Spencer Grant.

 

close

Racial Injustice Series Confronting Racial Injustice: The War on Drugs in Massachusetts: The Racial Impact of the School Zone Law and Other Mandatory Minimum Sentences Register registration required at no cost 19 May 2021.Wednesday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM This is an online program Sen. William N. Brownsberger; Abrigal Forrester, Center for Teen Empowerment; Rahsaan D. Hall, ACLU of Massachusetts; Deborah A. Ramirez, Northeastern University School of Law; and moderator Hon. Sydney Hanlon Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/ConcordHC-IMG-0823.jpg

In the 1980s, Massachusetts embraced the War on Drugs, enacting harsh mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses. It took decades to confront the reality that, in addition to being ineffective and costly, mandatory minimums resulted in the pervasive and disproportionate incarceration of Black and Brown people. Panelists will discuss this troubling history, recent reforms, and the prospects for implementing drug policies that are effective, fair, and just.

Moderator:

Hon. Sydney Hanlon, Massachusetts Appeals Court

Speaker:

Sen. William N. Brownsberger, Second Suffolk & Middlesex District; Abrigal Forrester, Executive Director, Center for Teen Empowerment; Rahsaan D. Hall, Director of the Racial Justice Program, American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts; Deborah A. Ramirez, Professor, Northeastern University School of Law

close

Racial Injustice Series Confronting Racial Injustice: The Charles Stuart Story: White Lies and Black Lives Register registration required at no cost 9 June 2021.Wednesday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM This is an online program Angela Onwuachi-Willig, Dean, Boston University School of Law; Hon. Leslie Harris (ret.), Suffolk Juvenile Court; Renée Graham, Columnist, The Boston Globe; moderated by Kim McLaurin, Associate Dean, Suffolk University Law School Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Winter_2021/thumbnail_Stuart_Graphic_-_hands.jpg

Charles Stuart, a white man, murdered his wife and unborn child in Boston in 1989 and falsely blamed the attack on a nonexistent Black man. Believing Stuart’s lie, the police engaged in a massive manhunt that terrorized a Black community in Mission Hill with detention, public strip-searches, and the arrest of two innocent men. As some lawmakers demanded the death penalty, the media perpetuated this false story. The Stuart case exemplifies how the narrative of white supremacy continues to lead to the dehumanization and devaluation of Black lives. Widespread acceptance of white lies over Black lives persists today.

 

 

 

 

close

Sponsors of the Confronting Racial Injustice Series

Northeastern University School of Law
Massachusetts Historical Society
Anti-Defamation League of New England
Black Ministerial Alliance of Greater Boston
Boston Athenaeum
Boston Bar Association
Boston College Law School
Boston University School of Law
Dorchester Historical Society
Flaschner Judicial Institute
Jamaica Plain Historical Society
King’s Chapel
Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association
Massachusetts Black Women Attorneys
Massachusetts School of Law at Andover
Museum of African American History
New England Law/Boston
Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy at Boston College Law School
Revolutionary Spaces
Roxbury Historical Society
Royall House & Slave Quarters
South Asian Bar Association of Greater Boston
Suffolk University Law School
The UU Urban Ministry
Trinity Church Boston
Tufts University
University of Massachusetts School of Law
West End Museum
Western New England Law School