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Rothstein’s words resonated with the audience at the Public Policy Forum, which was sold out at over 300 attendees. The auditorium at Seton Hall Law School was filled, even with eager listeners standing in the back.
“I would tell him (Murphy) to acknowledge on behalf of the state of New Jersey that we have an unconstitutional segregation of housing and ask him to begin to educate the constituents to take action,” Richard Rothstein said. “I’d ask him to be a moral leader and explain to the people of New Jersey how this happened, take responsibility for it, and ask the people of New Jersey for help changing it.”
The goal of the forum was to encourage the attendees to take action- to inspire them to reach out to their representatives and peers to help enact real change. In reference to the abandoned efforts of the NJ Civil Rights Committee, one audience member asked, “If it couldn’t happen over the last eight years, how’s it going to happen over the next four?” Other attendees were more hopeful, such as Paula Franzese, a Seton Hall law professor who urged her listeners to “Listen to the angry cacophony of voices saying Mount Laurel will not come here and say, ‘Yes, it will; yes, it must.’”
Panelist Reverend Eric Dobson of Fair Share Housing echoed the thoughts of Franzese, expressing hope for integration. “We are one of the most diverse states in the country but we are still very segregated. We need to move to being the most integrated state.”
This Public Policy Forum is part of a series providing opportunities to engage advocates and community, faith-based and civic leaders in solutions to affordable housing issues in NJ. It follows on the success of the October 2017 forum focused on the issue of Eviction.