Race & Inequality in America: The Kerner Commission at 50
The Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at UC Berkeley along with the 21st Century Cities Initiative at Johns Hopkins University and the Economic Policy Institute, is organizing a national conference commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Kerner Report.
In the mid-1960s, violent police encounters with Black Americans sparked uprisings in more than one hundred American cities. In 1967, shaken by the civil unrest across the nation, President Johnson established the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders to investigate the causes of the rebellions, as well as the underlying conditions of racial segregation and discrimination that gave rise to them. Headed by Illinois Governor Otto Kerner, with Mayor John V. Lindsay of New York as vice chairman, the Commission issued its landmark report, which became commonly known as the “Kerner Report,” on February 29, 1968.
Wide-ranging and dramatic, the Kerner Report concluded that white society had denied opportunity to Black Americans living in poor urban neighborhoods, and offered both dire warnings along with a bold plan of federal action. Its most famous line, cited again by the US Supreme Court as recently as 2015, was: “Our Nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white— separate and unequal.”
The killings of unarmed Black teenagers that sparked #BlackLivesMatter, and the ensuing movement that grew out of it, have re-awakened American consciousness to the pervasiveness of segregation, inequality, and police brutality and violence.
The themes, findings, and recommendations of the Kerner Commission have never seemed more relevant since its release.
Race & Inequality in America: The Kerner Commission at 50 conference will examine the legacy, successes and failures of the commission, and will envision what a contemporary Kerner Report might look like in every major area of American life, including housing, education, healthcare, policing, voting, and more.
The conference will be held February 27-March 1, 2018. The main sessions will take place at UC Berkeley but there will be a satellite location at Johns Hopkins University where some panels and keynotes will take place. A simulcast will be available in both locations.
Most sessions will be held on the UC Berkeley campus. There is also a satellite location hosted by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
UC Berkeley: Pauley Ballroom
Baltimore: Lewis Museum