Kerner Report

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 468

Here are some quotes from The Kerner Report:

This is our basic conclusion: Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal.

This is among the best-known lines from the report. It appears at the beginning of the report, which was commissioned by President Lyndon B. Johnson to study the causes of the riots in African American neighborhoods that had broken out in the mid 1960s and to make some recommendations about how to prevent them. The report concluded that the de facto segregation of African Americans into their own neighborhoods, without access to adequate jobs, had created two separate societies within American society, and the African American society was not equal to the white society.

This alternative will require a commitment to national action—compassionate, massive and sustained, backed by the resources of the most powerful and the richest nation on this earth. From every American it will require new attitudes, new understanding, and, above all, new will.

At the beginning of the report, the authors state that the bifurcation of American society is reversible. However, to fully integrate African Americans into American society, the government will have to play a role in providing jobs, housing, and resources for African Americans. In addition, Americans must change their attitudes and embrace full integration, and they must have the will to make the country a more equal place. The report calls on both the government and individual Americans to make the changes necessary to transform the racial attitudes and programs in the country.

White racism is essentially responsible for the explosive mixture which has been accumulating in our cities since the end of World War II.

The report places the blame for the urban riots squarely on whites. The authors write that racism in the forms of unequal opportunities for African Americans has been the primary cause of the riots. They note three levels of intensity in terms of African Americans's needs, including the lack of employment and housing on the first, most pressing level, the lack of educational opportunities on the second level, and lack of federal and municipal services on the third level.

Frustrated hopes are the residue of the unfulfilled expectations aroused by the great judicial and legislative victories of the Civil Rights Movement and the dramatic struggle for equal rights in the South.

The authors note that following the initial gains of the Civil Rights movement, African Americans had expectations of greater equality of opportunities. Though African Americans won certain legal rights on paper, these gains were not translated into radically improved opportunities for jobs, housing, and/or employment. In the aftermath of the report, which was released at the end of February in 1968, there were additional riots following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in April of 1968.

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