Is the history of urban and land use planning connected to racial discrimination in the U.S.?
In 2014, an African American teenager named Michael Brown was shot by police in Ferguson Missouri. Michael Brown’s death led to widespread protests across the United States and the rise of the #blacklivesmatter movement.
Many of us watched these events unfold on television. We probably made assumptions about Ferguson being one of those typically poor black US neighbourhoods, riddled with violence, crime and drugs. But according to Associate Professor Sarah Coffin, nothing could be further from the truth.
Sarah takes us back to the Civil War to show how the history of urban and land use planning are connected to racial discrimination in the US. She discusses the unexamined role that planning played – or didn’t play – in creating these systems of inequality. Using Ferguson, Missouri as a backdrop, she explores the challenges that concentrated poverty creates for communities.
Dr. Sarah L. Coffin is an Associate Professor of planning and development at Saint Louis University in St Louis, Missouri. Her work focuses on the spatial impacts of planning and development decisions on distressed communities. She has published work that considers the role that tax increment financing plays in the distribution of resources and investment across metro areas in the US. She has also published work that examines the impact of brownfields on distressed communities. Dr. Coffin has a PhD in City and Regional Planning from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.