Wilberto Sicard


Lehigh University
During my senior year at Lehigh University, I completed a senior honors thesis titled "City with Limits: An Untold History of Residential Segregation and Education Inequality in Allentown, PA." This work argues that Allentown's urban renewal projects in the 1960s led to the segregation of Allentonians of color into the city’s downtown area, which allowed the outside neighborhoods to remain majority-white. Because these urban renewal projects were authorized and sponsored by the state, the subsequent segregation exists as de jure, or by the law, segregation. In the second half of the thesis, I argue that the government’s role in dividing Allentown along racial lines created a racially segregated public school system in which Parkland High School educates a majority-white student body while the inner-city William Allen High School houses mostly students of color. This education system is unfair because Parkland outperforms William Allen across most academic measures, highlighting the fact that students of color in Allentown are disproportionately barred from academic achievement and success. I conclude the thesis by offering fair housing and equal funding and education policies that would help Allentown fulfill its vision of becoming a “City without limits.”

After graduating from Lehigh, I have committed to attending Yale Law School and deferred my entrance date one year to August 2021. I have accepted a role with the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley as a Racial and Ethnic Justice Community Organizer during my deferral year. In this capacity, I will work to break down the barriers to racial, economic, and housing equity in the Lehigh Valley that I discussed in my thesis.