Contact Dawn Insanalli, director of Public Relations, at (914) 637-2726 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Rochelle, NY (September 2009) Iona College will take a closer look at a famous school and housing desegregation case that took place in Yonkers in the 1980s as part of its Constitution Day celebration, September 17, to be held at 7 PM in the End Zone room of the La Penta Student Union on campus.
The program will bring together two prominent figures who participated in the landmark civil rights case and a filmmaker who has produced a documentary about the struggle for equal housing rights in Yonkers, an issue that is still being played out in the U.S., most recently the desegregation suit settlement regarding affordable housing in Westchester communities. Brian Nickerson, PhD., Dean of the School of Arts and Science, will introduce the speakers:
Joseph Pastore, PhD who was appointed in 1986 by the U.S. District Court (Southern District) as monitor and special master overseeing the order to desegregate the Yonkers public schools, Yonkers, New York. He is credited with mediating a $300 million settlement of that case, thereby concluding 20 years of litigation. The topic of Dr. Pastore's remarks will be "Evolution of Social Justice: Balancing Principles and Pragmatics."
Michael Sussman, civil right attorney and activist who served as lead counsel for the Yonkers branch of the NAACP and about 40,000 individuals in the successful segregation suit. Mr. Sussman will speak about the relationship between courts and social movements for change.
William Kavanagh, director and producer of the one-hour documentary, Brick by Brick: A Civil Rights Story. Mr. Kavanagh will discuss the making of the film that depicts how fear and misunderstanding nearly tore an American city apart. The film will be screened prior to the discussion.
Jeanne Zaino, Ph.D., Iona College Chair and Associate Professor, said that the Yonkers "case resonates today because of the recent settlement of the Westchester County desegregation lawsuit." Dr. Zaino added: "Iona College encourages our students to make interdisciplinary connections and this is an excellent opportunity when we can show that what has happened in the recent past right here in Westchester is relevant to us now."
The City of Yonkers was charged with a consistent pattern of school and housing segregation for more than 40 years. The trial began in 1983 with 84 witnesses and 140 depositions, resulting in 1985 in the longest opinion in civil rights history. It held that there was overwhelming evidence that Yonkers was guilty of fostering school and housing segregation and held the city responsible.
Iona traditionally celebrates Constitution Day each year. The date marks the anniversary when the delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the document on September 17, 1787 that established the basis for America's new system of government.
Sponsored by the Office of Student Development and the Student Government Association, The Constitution Day program will begin earlier in the day with a student discussion on "Ethnicity and Gender: Does It Really Matter - A Conversation About Sonia Sotomayor," to be held from noon to 1 pm, also at the LaPenta Student Union. At 5:30 PM, there will be a Red, White and Blue Hospital Dinner, sponsored by Iona's The New Politics Club.
For questions or more information please contact:
Public Relations Office
Iona College, 715 North Avenue, New Rochelle, N.Y. 10801
Office: (914) 637-2726
Fax: (914) 637-2711
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