Series commemorates report’s pivotal role in addressing unequal treatment in urban areas

Urban unrest in Detroit, 1967. The Kerner Commission examined the condition of cities, such as Detroit, that led to turmoil. ­(Photo: Lee Balterman)

Following the urban unrest of 1967, then-President Lyndon B. Johnson established the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, known as the Kerner Commission after its chair, former Illinois Gov. Otto Kerner Jr.

The 11-member commission was tasked with examining the conditions of the cities that led to the turmoil and made recommendations addressing the underlying causes of the unequal treatment of urban neighborhoods.

The group’s subsequent report, issued 50 years ago this month, is considered a pivotal moment in the changing dynamics of U.S. cities and the role of race as a division in America.

To commemorate the report’s 50th anniversary, UIC’s Great Cities Institute will host a week of events beginning Feb. 26 that address the report’s findings and their continuing relevance for today’s urban issues.

The keynote address, “The Kerner Report: 50 Years Later,” which is scheduled from 9 to 11 a.m. March 1 in Student Center East, will feature Fred Harris, a former U.S. Senator from Oklahoma and the last living member of the commission.

A panel discussion will follow with Timuel Black, historian and Chicago civil rights activist; Eugene “Gus” Newport, former mayor of Berkeley, Calif., and human rights activist; Gail Christopher, former senior adviser and vice president of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation; José Lopez, executive director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center; Willie J.R. Fleming, executive director of the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign; and Anthony Lowery, director of policy and advocacy for the Safer Foundation.

Admission to the event is free and registration is required online.

UIC professors Jane Rhodes, Cedric Johnson and Amanda Lewis — who is also director of the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy — will headline a Feb. 26 panel discussion on the report and issues of race and inequality in the 1960s.

Other events include two documentary screenings and a conversation with Newport, who will discuss his decades of work to address racial and class disparities, both as an elected official and as a human rights activist throughout the U.S., Africa and Latin America.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email