The definitive history of the Kerner Commission, whose report on urban unrest reshaped American debates about race and inequality
In Separate and Unequal, historian Steven M. Gillon offers a revelatory new history of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorderspopularly known as the Kerner Commission. Convened by President Lyndon Johnson after riots in Newark and Detroit left dozens dead and thousands injured, the commission issued a report in 1968 that attributed the unrest to "white racism" and called for aggressive new programs to end discrimination and poverty. "Our nation is moving toward two societies," it warned, "one black, and one whiteseparate and unequal."
Johnson refused to accept the Kerner Report, and as his political coalition unraveled, its proposals went nowhere. For the right, the report became a symbol of liberal excess, and for the left, one of opportunities lost. Separate and Unequal is essential for anyone seeking to understand the fraught politics of race in America.
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About the Author
Steve M. Gillon is a scholar-in-residence for the History Channel and a professor of history at the University of Oklahoma. The author of several books on American history, he lives in Miami Beach, Florida.
Table of Contents
Prologue "It Looks Like Berlin in 1945" 1
Chapter 1 "What Do They Want?" 15
Chapter 2 "Let Your Search Be Free" 43
Chapter 3 "I'll Take Out My Pocketknife and Cut Your Peter Off" 65
Chapter 4 "I Think We Should Avoid Overstatement" 91
Chapter 5 "A Straitjacket of Facts" 111
Chapter 6 "White Racism" 133
Chapter 7 "Can You Really Say This in a Government Report?" 151
Chapter 8 "That's Good and Tell Him I Appreciate That" 177
Chapter 9 "Lindsay Has Taken Effective Control of the Commission" 193
Chapter 10 "Two Societies" 227
Chapter 11 "I'd Be a Hypocrite" 247
Chapter 12 "The Most Courageous Government Report in the Last Decade" 267
Chapter 13 "The 60s and 70s Seem to Have Left Us Exhausted" 293
A Note on Sources 349
Photos appear after page 192.