Podcast: Jelani Cobb on the Missed Lessons of the Kerner CommissionHistorians in the News
tags: racism, urban history, riots, Kerner Commission, podcasts
In the 1960s, America burned. Black communities’ frustration against racist policies, economic isolation, and police brutality spilled into the streets in cities across the country. Hundreds were killed, many by police, and cities like Newark and Los Angeles were left with tens of millions of dollars in property damages.
In 1967, shortly after the uprising in Detroit, President Lyndon B. Johnson announced the creation of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, to investigate the causes of the protests. It would become known as the Kerner Commission, for its chair, Governor Otto Kerner of Illinois.
The panel was mostly white, and all men. But what the commission ultimately found was damning. The Kerner Commission Report, published in 1968, found that white America was responsible for the structural and societal failings that led to the uprisings, famously declaring “white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it. And white society condones it.”
These words, written over 50 years ago, are still relevant today. To some, the words may even seem radical.
That’s why New Yorker writer Jelani Cobb decided to edit and publish a new version of the findings, called “The Essential Kerner Commission Report.” Trymaine Lee sat down with Jelani at a special New York Public Library event to talk about the re-released report, the discarded recommendations, and why the report is crucial to understanding America today.
comments powered by Disqus
- The Debt Ceiling Law is now a Tool of Partisan Political Power; Abolish It
- Amitai Etzioni, Theorist of Communitarianism, Dies at 94
- Kagan, Sotomayor Join SCOTUS Cons in Sticking it to Unions
- New Evidence: Rehnquist Pretty Much OK with Plessy v. Ferguson
- Ohio Unions Link Academic Freedom and the Freedom to Strike
- First Round of Obama Administration Oral Histories Focus on Political Fault Lines and Policy Tradeoffs
- The Tulsa Race Massacre was an Attack on Black People; Rebuilding Policies were an Attack on Black Wealth
- British Universities are Researching Ties to Slavery. Conservative Alumni Say "Enough"
- Martha Hodes Reconstructs Her Memory of a 1970 Hijacking
- Jeremi Suri: Texas Higher Ed Conflict "Doesn't Have to Be This Way"
- New transcript of Ayn Rand at West Point in 1974 shows she claimed “savage" Indians had no right to live here just because they were born here
- The Mexican War Suggests Ukraine May End Up Conceding Crimea. World War I Suggests the Price May Be Tragic if it Doesn't
- The Vietnam War Crimes You Never Heard Of