The 1968 Kerner Commission Report Still Echoes Across America

1960s: Days of Rage

Then Illinois governor Otto Kerner, left, and New York mayor John Lindsay report on the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders in October 1967.

“A young African-American is killed by a white police officer in full view of others. Angry people take to the streets — unrest that goes on night after night, with scores injured and hundreds arrested. Sound familiar? But this was back in July 1964, in the Harlem and Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhoods of New York. And far worse lay ahead. More racial rioting erupted the following summer in Los Angeles’s Watts section. In 1966 there was yet more, this time in Cleveland. Then came the disastrous summer of 1967. Chaos enveloped more than 160 American cities and towns, the most ruinous riots leading to 43 deaths in Detroit and 26 in Newark. With the nation reeling that summer, President Lyndon B. Johnson created a task force to explore…

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