CHICAGO – A round table discussion on the West Side Wednesday night featured a 53-year-old report that still echoes across America today.
The Kerner Commission found that poverty and institutional racism were factors driving inner-city violence in the 1960s. An event dove into the Kerner Report Wednesday as panelists, who lived through looting and burning in the 60s, talked about how it applies in current times.
Former governor Pat Quinn, congressman Danny Davis and several activists took part.
“I think this is an important footnote in history. This report is a realism and a mirror of American society,” Activist Hermene Hartman said. “Basically, what he says in a real sweet summary is that there are two Americas; one white and one black.”
In 1968, President Johnson tapped Illinois Governor Otto Kerner to lead a task force, which explored the root of unrest and possible remedies.
The infamous report found that poverty and institutional racism.
The panel Wednesday came together to talk about where we stand as a society today.
They said while America has made progress, it doesn’t look much different than it did in the 60s. Panelists called for a federal investigation into recent riots to take a close look at what happened and what can be done to prevent it from happening again.
“The streets of America are being rioted on and burned because of incidents like George Floyd, incidents like my great-nephew Laquan McDonald,” Pastor Marvin Gaye Hunter said. “It must stop it can stop and this Kerner Report shows how to stop it.”
Panelists said the key to breaking the cycle is distributing wealth, but noted that’s going to take an all-out effort from government and private businesses alike.