Simon Bernstein, Oral History Interview on Connecticut Civil Rights, August 1, 2011
From Amanda Matava on February 20th, 2019
Simon Bernstein (born 1913) primarily describes his role regarding two Connecticut civil rights issues: restrictive covenants and public education equality. As a lawyer and Hartford alderman in 1947, he publicly challenged racially restrictive covenants in property deeds. In 1950, he and his family moved to suburban Bloomfield, CT, where he served on the local board of education. In 1965, as a delegate to the Connecticut Constitutional Convention, he authored an amendment that guaranteed a free public education to every child, which laid the legal foundation for the 1970s Horton v. Meskill school finance cases, the 1989 Sheff v O'Neill school desegregation lawsuit, and the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, Inc. v Rell ruling in 2010. In addition, he discusses his relationships with Democratic Party chairman John Bailey, Governor Abraham Ribicoff, Hartford Mayor Thomas Spellacy, and his later role as a judge. Finally, he recalls memories of growing up as a Jewish boy in Hartford's Frog Hollow neighborhood and attending nearby Trinity College, where he graduated with the Class of 1933. Simon Bernstein passed away in May 2013 at the age of 100. See obituary under the "Attachments" page. Created by Jack Dougherty and contributors for On the Line.