On Monday, March 5 the University of Texas at Austin’s Social Justice Institute and several campus partners will host two events commemorating the 50-year anniversary of the Kerner Commission Report, an historic study published in 1968 that provided a comprehensive account of race and inequality in America.
In the aftermath of the 1967 urban riots, President Lyndon B. Johnson established the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, chaired by former Illinois governor Otto Kerner. The 11-member commission examined the conditions of the cities that led to the turmoil and made recommendations addressing the underlying causes. The commission’s report, released on February 29, 1968, 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.”
Fifty years later, what can the Kerner Report continue to teach us about the present and future of racial inequality in America? Scholars, journalists and elected officials will examine this question at the following campus events.
A Conversation with Senator Fred Harris
12-1:30 p.m., Room 3.122, LBJ School of Public Affairs
Former U.S. Senator Fred Harris (D-OK) and original member of the Kerner Commission will partake in a Q&A with Dr. Alan Curtis, president and CEO of the Eisenhower Foundation. The session will be moderated by Dr. Peniel Joseph, professor in the LBJ School of Public Affairs and College of Liberal Arts and founding director of the LBJ School’s Center for the Study of Race and Democracy (CSRD). The conversation will focus on the relevance of the historic document and the surrounding events to today’s political, cultural and social climate.
The event is free and open to the public (priority given to UT students) and is part of the CSRD’s Civil Rights in Burnt Orange series. Sponsors include the DDCE’s Social Justice Institute and Community Engagement Center, the LBJ School of Public Affairs and the LBJ Library.
Kerner at 50 Guest Speaker Event (Invite Only)
6:30-8 p.m. at the LBJ Library (Frank Erwin Jr. Atrium)
The following notable speakers will discuss the “Past, Present and Future of Two Americas” at an event hosted by The University of Texas at Austin’s Social Justice Institute and supported by the Longhorn Center for Community Engagement, LBJ Presidential Library, LBJ School of Public Affairs and Department of Radio, Television and Film.
Julian 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.
Dan Rather: President and CEO of News and Guts. A former news anchor for the CBS Evening News, Rather’s famed and storied career has spanned more than six decades. He has interviewed every president since Eisenhower and, over that time, personally covered almost every important dateline in the United States and around the world.
Follow the online conversation: #Kernerat50