Commemoration of the Release of the Kerner Commission Report: Fifty Years Later

Detroit, July 1967. Source: Lee Balterman—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

On February 29, 1968, the report from the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders was released. The commission and the report was named after its Chairman, Governor Otto Kerner of Illinois. Please join us on March 1, 2018 to commemorate the release of the 1968 Kerner Commission Report with the last remaining original member of the Commission, Dr. Fred Harris.

In 1965, in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, rioting erupted after an incident with police. Two years later, in June of 1967, riots erupted in several cities across the nation including Atlanta, Boston, Cincinnati, Buffalo, and Tampa.  In July of 1967, Birmingham, Chicago, New York, Milwaukee, New Britain (Connecticut), Rochester and Plainfield (New Jersey).  Most notable were the rebellions in Newark and Detroit. In Detroit, for example, police action precipitated five days of unrest during which time the national guard and U.S. airborne divisions were added to the mix.

In the aftermath of the long, hot summer of 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson established the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders. The 11-member commission examined the conditions of the cities that led to the turmoil and made recommendations addressing the underlying causes. The Commission’s report, released on February 29, 1968, marks a pivotal moment in the changing dynamics of U.S. cities and of critical analysis of the role of race as a division in America.

The Great Cities Institute is proud to host activities to commemorate the February 29, 1968 release of the Kerner Commission Report.  More details will follow, but please mark your calendar for March 1, to welcome our special guest speaker, former U.S. Senator Fred Harris, an original member of the Kerner Commission – and the last surviving member. Elected to the U.S. Senate from the state of Oklahoma in 1964, Senator Harris quickly became one of the most active members of the U.S. Senate and was deeply concerned about the conditions for inner-city African Americans, recognizing that unequal treatment of urban neighborhoods was one of the determining factors in the 1967 unrest.

Dr. Harris will speak on March 1, 2018 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. at Student Center East, 750 South Halsted. Look for more details on the event and other activities associated with the commemoration.

We hope that you had a pleasant holiday season and wish you a good year.