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University of Minnesota to Host 50th Anniversary Conference of Kerner Commission

In honor of the 50th celebration of the Kerner Commission, the University of Minnesota (UM) will host a free national conference where scholars, politicians and the public are welcome to discuss the controversial report.

The Commission, created by President Lyndon B. Johnson’s commission on civil disorder, sparked controversy with its famous conclusion: “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one Black, one White – separate but unequal.”

President Lyndon B. Johnson at the signing of the 1968 Kerner Commission.President Lyndon B. Johnson at the signing of the 1968 Kerner Commission.

The conference will be held on Thursday, Sept. 5 and Friday, Sept. 6 at UM’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs in partnership with Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU).

“Former U.S. Sen. Fred Harris of Oklahoma, the only surviving member of the Kerner Commission, will deliver one of the keynote speeches,” the Star Tribune reported. “Other speakers include L. Douglas Wilder of Virginia, the first African-American to be elected governor in the United States, and Sharon Sayles Belton, the first Black mayor of Minneapolis.”

The Kerner Commission was written in July 1967 during a period of riots, racial conflicts and violence nationwide. It was released to the public in 1968 and pointed out things such as that, “White racism is essentially responsible for the explosive mixture which has been accumulating in our cities since the end of World War II.”

The conference will feature discussions of the housing and monetary imbalances and issues relating to police and the community that were mentioned in the report, as well as race relations in today’s society.

Monica Levitan can be reached at [email protected]. You can follow her on Twitter @monlevy_.

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