Kerner at 50: The Past, Present and Future of Two Americas

Mar 05, 2018

Hosted in partnership with The University of Texas at Austin's Social Justice Institute and several other campus partners

March 5, 2018
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In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Kerner Commission Report, we took a look back at what the report can continue to teach us about the present and future of racial inequality in America.

Featured guests

  • Julián Castro: The Dean’s Distinguished Fellow and fellow of the Dávila Chair in International Trade Policy at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. Previously, he served as the 16th United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under President Barack Obama from 2014 to 2017 and mayor of San Antonio from 2009 to 2014.
  • Dr. 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, he quickly became one of the most active members of the Senate and was deeply concerned about the plight of economically deprived inner-city African Americans, recognizing that unequal treatment of urban neighborhoods was one of the determining factors in the urban unrests of the 1960s.
  • Eric Tang is an Associate Professor in the African and African Diaspora Studies Department and faculty member in the Center for Asian American Studies. He also holds a courtesy appointment in the Department of Sociology and serves as a faculty fellow with the Institute for Urban Policy Research & Analysis and the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement. He is at work on a book, Fire In the Streets (Verso Books, 2019), which revisits the urban rebellions of the late 1960s.
  • Dr. Kathleen McElroy is the School of Journalism’s associate director and a senior lecturer at The University of Texas at Austin. She received her Ph.D. from the School of Journalism in December 2014, after nearly 30 years as a professional journalist. At The New York Times, she held various management positions, including associate managing editor, dining editor, deputy sports editor, and deputy editor of the website.

About the commission
In the aftermath of the 1967 urban riots, President Lyndon B. Johnson established the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, better known as the Kerner Commission in reference to its chair, former Illinois governor Otto Kerner.

The 11-member commission examined the conditions of the cities that rioted and made recommendations addressing the underlying causes. The commission’s report, released on Feb. 29, 1968, historically asserted that despite the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the nation was “moving toward two societies, one Black, one white—separate and unequal.”

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