Connecting to History



 Families protesting school districts that made high-performing Noah Webster Elementary School out of boundary for families of color. Hartford Library History Project, circa 1960. 

A number of governmental policies promoting segregation have impacted Connecticut's current segregated status. In order to confront this history of segregation, we must recognize our history.

  1. Placement of public and subsidized housing. Where is subsidized housing?

  2. Redlining. Lenders created a rating system to assess mortgage risk by neighborhood. However, the system explicitly used race as a factor to indicate neighborhood instability. This means that people of color in these neighborhoods could not obtain a home loan, and therefore were historically unable to accumulate wealth.

  3. Racial covenants. Language is contained in some property deeds that explicitly bars people of color from ever occupying a specific property. (The enforcement of such language was prohibited by the U.S. Supreme Court in Shelley v. Kraemer.)

  4. Exclusionary zoning. Zoning has been recognized as one tool to exclude people of color from neighborhoods and towns. Because people of color are disproportionately lower income, towns can effectively exclude people of color by requiring larger minimum lot sizes, lower maximum density (units per acre), and a number of other requirements.

Racial, ethnic, and economic residential segregation today is no accident but is the result of intentional government policies, like redlining, enforcing racial covenants, and discriminatory lending in federal programs.  Because the government contributed to creating segregation, it has a legal obligation under state and federal law to counteract forces that promote segregation.  This is called the duty to affirmatively further fair housing.

Professor Jack Dougherty of Trinity College worked closely with the Mapping and Geographic Information Center at the University of Connecticut to create historical maps of the Hartford area that help us better understand the historical roots of present-day segregation: 

To counterbalance these intentional policies that fostered segregation, the Fair Housing Act creates an obligation to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing under certain circumstances.

Resources     Worth A Read    


  • Open Communities Alliance
  • 75 Charter Oak Avenue
  • Suite 1-200
  • Hartford, CT 06106
  • Phone: 860-610-6040