July 28, 1967, Kerner Commission

On July 28, 1967 President Lyndon B. Johnson constituted the Kerner Commission to identify the genesis of the violent 1967 riots that killed 43 in Detroit and 26 in Newark while causing fewer casualties in 23 other cities.

Many Americans blamed the riots on outside agitators or young Black men, who represented the largest and most visible group of rioters. But, in March 1968, the Kerner Commission turned those assumptions upside-down, declaring white racism—not Black anger—turned the key that unlocked urban American turmoil.

“Commonly sparked by repressive and violent police actions, urban uprisings were political acts of self-defense and racial liberation on a mass, public scale. Legislative successes at the federal level with the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts were not reflected in the daily lives of African-Americans facing police misconduct, economic inequality, segregated housing, and inferior educations.”

– William S. Pretzer, Senior Curator of the National Museum of African American History and Culture

by IFHCIdaho August 18, 2021