Program features reenactment of 'redlining' case

By Debra Talcott
Legal News

The Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion and Cooley Law School later this month will jointly present a program titled “From Redlining to White Flight: The History of Housing Segregation and the Importance of Regionalism.”
The program on Friday, Oct. 29 will begin at 10 a.m. at Cooley’s Auburn Hills campus and is part of a larger project called “Race, Residence & Regionalism,” which includes a three-pronged approach to address racial inequities created and perpetuated by the policies of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and other entities in Metropolitan Detroit.
The schedule of events includes a complimentary continental breakfast during the welcome portion of the program from 10-10:30 a.m. 
From 10:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., attendees will witness a reenactment of the Supreme Court oral argument from Milliken vs. Bradley, the historic cross-district busing case in southeast Michigan. 
The case was a class-action suit filed in August 1970 by parents of students in the Detroit school system along with the Detroit Branch of the NAACP against the Michigan State Board of Education and other state officials.
The suit alleged that the Detroit Public Schools was a racially segregated district as a result of policy and that it would be unconstitutional for the state to interfere with a plan to desegregate schools.
The case was heard by the U.S. District Court and the U. S. Court of Appeals before going all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Reenactment participants include Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Marilyn Kelly, Retired 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge James L. Ryan, U.S. District Court Judges Denise Page Hood and David Lawson, St. Clair Shores District Court Judge Joseph Oster, Cooley constitutional law professors Dan Ray and Brent Simmons, and Pepper Hamilton partner Abe Singer.
The afternoon portion of the program will run from 1:30 until 4 p.m. and features a panel discussion led by the two attorneys who lived through the historic case: former Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelley and former civil rights attorney Nathaniel Jones. 
Kelley originally argued the case for the State of Michigan, and Jones represented the plaintiffs, later becoming a 6th Circuit Court of Appeals judge. 
Additional panel participants include Cliff Schrupp, director of the Fair Housing Center of Metro Detroit; Judy Levy, assistant U.S. Attorney; Elliott Hall, partner at the Dykema Gossett; and Kurt Metzger, demographer. Cooley-Auburn Hills Campus Dean John Nussbaumer will moderate the panel discussion.
“Too often, we avoid confronting difficult issues about racial segregation because we are uncomfortable about our own prejudices, or we simply deny that they exist,” said Nussbaumer. “Metropolitan Detroit is one of the most racially segregated communities in the entire country, and the purpose of this program is to bring together individuals of good will from both sides of the divide to explore an important legal milestone that shaped our community. We hope to learn from this experience so that we can heal old wounds, reconcile old adversaries, and move forward together to create a more inclusive regional community.”
This year’s program constitutes Phase Two of the Race, Residence & Regionalism project.
Phase One began in 2008 with the purpose of examining the history of housing from the great migration of African Americans from the South to the North through the Civil Rights Act of 1968.
The current phase includes the formation of a truth commission whose purpose is to examine the impact of “race and space” and to make recommendations on how Metro Detroit can achieve regional equity.
Phase Three will enlist area stakeholders in generating ideas that will promote regional development and equity.
The Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion was founded in 1941 as a not-for-profit civil rights organization. The organization works to overcome discrimination and racism by crossing racial, religious, ethnic, and cultural boundaries to understand various points of view.
“We look forward to this opportunity to educate those attending our event regarding the impact past government practices have had on Metro Detroit’s status as one of the most segregated regions in the country today,” says Freda Sampson, program manager.
This year’s program is free and open to the public.
Attendees may expect to gain insight into the history of racial discrimination and residential segregation in Metro Detroit and how both have determined where and how we live today.
To register, go to or call (313) 870-1500, ext. 104, and ask for Freda Sampson.

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