Social and Economic Justice

Watch: The Enduring Problem of Segregation

Social and economic justice are critical to the fight for racial justice. Advancing social and economic justice requires that we reimagine and rethink how we leverage law, shape policy, and engage in practices that strengthen communities of color and allow the people who live in those communities to lead choice-filled lives. The Center works to challenge racial inequality and advance distributive justice and equal opportunity in housing, education, transportation, and various sectors of civic life. 

Fighting for Equity in Transportation Policy and Infrastructure

Among the critical drivers of inequality, racial segregation, and concentrated poverty in our cities is the development of transportation policy and infrastructure. The late United States Congressman John Lewis once wrote, “the legacy of Jim Crow transportation is still with us. Even today, some of our transportation policies and practices destroy stable neighborhoods, isolate and segregate our citizens in deteriorating neighborhoods, and fail to provide access to jobs and economic growth centers.” The benefits and burdens of all aspects of our transportation system – highways, roads, bridges, sidewalks, and public transit – have been planned, developed, and maintained to segregate people of color, making it difficult for them to take advantage of society’s opportunities or to access employment, education, and economic resources.

Learn more about the Center’s work fighting for equity in transportation policy and infrastructure.

The Enduring Problem of School Segregation

To highlight an ongoing plight in American society, the Center produced a short documentary entitled The Enduring Problem of School Segregation. Featuring interviews with advocates and attorneys Dennis Parker, Richard Buery, and Anurima Bhargava, as well as student activist Tiffani Torres, The Enduring Problem of School Segregation examines how racial segregation persists in public education. Even in progressive cities like New York, racial segregation in education remains a serious problem that Americans must face.

Advocacy Toolkits

To support struggles by community members and advocates fighting for more equitable community conditions, the Center has developed and published “toolkits” filled with helpful resources. One of these toolkits looks at how communities can fight back against highway projects that threaten their neighborhoods. Highway construction has often had a racially disparate impact, with the first wave of highways in the 1950s and 1960s demolishing many neighborhoods of color and displacing thousands of residents. The toolkit considers what lessons can be learned from these past struggles and how community advocates in the present day can intervene in the highway planning process to prevent the harms of the past from being repeated.

Building Roads to a Just and Equitable Future: Highway Advocacy Toolkit (PDF: 8.11 MB)

Testimony Before the New York Joint State Committee on Transportation 

The Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law and the Civi Rights Clinic at NYU Law School submitted written testimony to the New York Joint State Committee on Transportation laying out steps the New York State Legislature can take to improve transportation equity in Central New York and ensure that racial justice is a central consideration as the state replaces Interstate-81 in Syracuse, New York.

Read the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law's written testimony (PDF: 107 KB)

Recent Scholarship on Social and Economic Justice