Race Riots Reexamined: Kerner Report 40 Years Later

By Jonathan Adams Mar 04, 2008

The Kerner Report was released on February 29, 1968, and this report was commissioned by Lyndon B. Johnson who formed a committee to research race relations after a deadly series of summer race riots all over the country. Angering Lyndon B. Johnson, the report found in 1968 that: "Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white — separate and unequal. What white Americans have never fully understood — but what the Negro can never forget — is that white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it, and white society condones it." But the report said that the country wasn’t doomed and that solutions existed. Forty years after these recommendations, ARC has released legislative report cards in California and Illinois that prove many of the long-standing racial disparities in income, health, and education that the commission noted continue to exist. These report cards also name criteria by which policymakers should create racial equity legislation because, as the Kerner Report adds, "this deepening racial division is not inevitable. The movement apart can be reversed. Choice is still possible. Our principal task is to define that choice and to press for a national resolution.”