50 years ago, this groundbreaking report confronted America's racial struggle

Feb 27, 2018

In the summer of 1967, more than 150 riots broke out in Black communities across the country, protesting racial injustice. President Johnson then called a special commission to investigate, which produced an unusual document, called the Kerner Report, which analyzed the reasons why Black communities were frustrated and rising up.

The Kerner Report was revolutionary. It gave recommendations for solving issues like housing, education, and policing. Its findings were striking for the times, concluding that white society had denied opportunity to Black Americans living in poor urban neighborhoods.


Today the Kerner Report turns 50. How far has the country come since then with regards to racial justice?


This week scholars from around the country come to UC Berkeley to explore that question at a conference called "Race & Inequality in America: The Kerner Commission at 50.”


Stephen Menendian, the assistant director at UC’s Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, which is hosting the conference, talked to KALW's Hana Baba.


"There is a historical parallel there that is so powerful. Part of the story we have to tell is not only, 'how do we confront the current moment,' but really, 'why is it that when Americans have tried to confront these issues before — even in a powerful, poignant way like the Kerner Report — they haven't quite succeeded?' "

Click the audio player above to listen to the full story.