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LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute Senior Fellow Richard Rothstein Wins Brooklyn Public Library 2017 Literary Prize 

Today, Richard Rothstein, Senior Fellow of the Thurgood Marshall Institute (TMI) at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), won the Brooklyn Public Library’s (BPL) 2017 Nonfiction Prize for his book, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America. Established in 2015, the Nonfiction Prize honors new works that reflect the BPL’s mission to bring together celebrated writers, scholars, critics, artists, and the Brooklyn community to discuss urgent social, political, and artistic issues.

“As we combat this Administration’s seemingly relentless assault on our civil rights, there is even greater urgency to understanding the history of state-sponsored racism and segregation,” said James Cadogan, Director of TMI. “The Color of Law brilliantly traces this sordid part of our nation’s past, urging readers to confront the often-overlooked policies that still shape our country to this day. Every accolade this book receives is richly deserved, and we congratulate Richard on this momentous honor.”

In The Color of Law, Rothstein explodes the myth that America’s cities came to be racially divided as the result of individual prejudices, personal choices to live in same-race neighborhoods, income differences, or the actions of private institutions like banks and real estate agencies. Rather, The Color of Law uncovers a forgotten history of how racially explicit policies of federal, state, and local governments created the patterns of residential segregation that persist to this day. The Color of Law concludes that because residential segregation was created by government action in violation of the Constitution, we are obligated to remedy it.

“In these troubled times in which frightening white supremacist activities have been exposed, there is also a growing willingness by many to re-examine, with unprecedented frankness, the legacies of slavery and Jim Crow that determine the inequality we still experience today,” said Senior Fellow Rothstein. “I am personally gratified by the Brooklyn Public Library’s recognition of The Color of Law, but especially grateful for how such recognition contributes to this national re-examination.”

TMI is LDF’s multidisciplinary research and advocacy center. Launched in 2015, the Institute undertakes research and executes advocacy initiatives that seek to end racial disparities in the United States. The Institute complements LDF’s traditional advocacy through litigation in three capacities: research, advocacy campaigns, and organizing. TMI also houses LDF’s rich, historical archives.

For more information about LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute, visit


Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.