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Events & exhibitions
event • Lectures

Racial Inequity and Housing Instability in Boston: Past, Present, and Future

A sepia-toned photo of a mansion and slave quarters, in Medford, Massachusetts.
In the 18th century, the Royall House was home to the largest slaveholding family in Massachusetts. It was a bequest from Isaac Royall Jr. that funded the establishment of Harvard Law School in 1817. In 2016, the Harvard Corporation approved the removal of the Law School’s shield, which was derived directly from the Royall coat of arms. Harvard Fine Arts Library Special Collections

Millions of Americans have long struggled to pay for housing, with communities of color additionally burdened by housing discrimination and historical race-based policies, such as legalized segregation, redlining, and mortgage discrimination. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic crisis, the federal government instituted a moratorium on evictions that is currently set to expire on March 31, 2021. Despite this, the continuing public health emergency has exacerbated the national housing affordability crisis for people of color, who are more likely to have lost jobs and fall behind on housing payments as a result.

Our panel of experts will explore these issues as they relate to Greater Boston, as well as the long history of community activism in the area. Join us as we consider solutions for a more equitable future of safe, stable, and affordable housing for all.


Tatiana Cruz, assistant professor of American history, Lesley University

Lydia Edwards, Boston city councilor, District 1

Lisa Owens, executive director, the Hyams Foundation

Moderated by Chris Herbert, managing director, Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies

This program is presented as part of the presidential initiative on Harvard and the Legacy of Slavery, a University-wide effort housed at Harvard Radcliffe Institute, in collaboration with the Royall House and Slave Quarters.


Free and open to the public. To view this event online, individuals will need to register via Zoom.

For instructions on how to join, see the How to Attend a Radcliffe Event on Zoom webpage.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation e-mail containing a link and password for this meeting.

Live closed captioning will be available for this webinar.

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