City Council Reads – Rob Johnson, District 4

This past November, Seattle swore in a new Mayor and City Councilmember, and we here at ShelfTalk thought this would be a great opportunity to continue our series of posts in which we invited your representatives to share books that have meant a lot to them. This time, we asked them “What book was most influential in your life or career and why?” This week, Councilmember Rob Johnson, representing District 4, Northeast Seattle.

“What book was most influential in your life or career and why?”

The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein made a huge impact on me, and continues to shape my work as I serve as the chair of the Seattle City Council’s Planning, Land Use & Zoning committee. This book represents a powerful examination of the way 20th century land use and zoning policy in America deepened the harmful divide of segregation, and how the barriers these policies placed before members of our community spurred setbacks spanning generations.

After reading Rothstein’s work, I felt a renewed enthusiasm and focus to right these wrongs, to use policy to further opportunity for all Seattleites, and support inclusive, welcoming communities.

Last November, Seattle Public Library hosted Richard Rothstein in conversation with Quintard Taylor, the Scott and Dorothy Bullitt Professor of American History at the University of Washington. You can hear a podcast their conversation here. Readers interested in how this systemic racial segregation unfolded here in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest should check out Taylor’s own books on African-American history in our area. For a brief interview with Rothstein and NPR’s Ari Shapiro, check here.

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