WASHINGTON – Our Revolution today marked the February 1968 release of the National Advisory Committee on Civil Disorders findings, also known as the Kerner Commission report. President Lyndon B. Johnson formed the commission to determine the root causes of the race riots. While he failed to act on the Commission’s recommendations, the report’s authors warned that the nation was moving towards “two societies, one black, one white; separate and unequal."
Roughly 50 years after the Kerner Commission identified discrimination, poverty, and segregation as contributing factors spurring the riots, Our Revolution President Nina Turner issued the following statement:
“To reverse suffering in Black communities, the Kerner Commission highlighted the importance of collective will, declaring that, ‘From every American it will require new attitudes, new understanding, and, above all, new will.’
“Decades later, our nation is still working to build the political will to improve the lives of not just African Americans, but of poor people as well. As a nation, we are still working to see ourselves in the lives of the dispossessed and the downtrodden, and then to act on their behalf.
“The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, ‘a riot is the language of the unheard.’ While he pursued nonviolence, declaring it the ‘most potent weapon for the American Negro,’ he seemed to acknowledge that desperate circumstances lead to desperate choices.
“The job of elected leaders is to ease that sense of desperation. It’s to create the environment where all people are seen. To do this, we must develop policies that meet the needs of persons on all ends of the socio-economic continuum; the perceived least to the perceived greatest. That’s why Our Revolution is committed to electing progressive candidates and advancing progressive policies that have the power to truly change lives.
“While President Johnson refused to implement many of the recommendations of the Kerner Commission report, we are in an era where grassroots leaders are demanding change. By reflecting on our sometimes-turbulent history, and renewing our resolve to achieve that change, we will ensure our political and economic systems are responsive to the needs of the people.”