Separate and Unequal: The Kerner Commission and the Unraveling of American Liberalism, by Steven M Gillon
Separate and Unequal is the definitive history of the Kerner Commission, whose report on urban unrest reshaped American debates about race and inequality
Convened by President Lyndon Johnson after riots in Newark and Detroit left dozens dead and thousands injured, the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders - or ‘Kerner Commission’ - issued a report in 1968 that attributed the unrest to "white racism" and called for aggressive new programs to end discrimination and poverty. "Our nation is moving toward two societies," it warned, "one black, and one white - separate and unequal."
Johnson refused to accept the Kerner Report, and as his political coalition unraveled, its proposals went nowhere. For the right, the report became a symbol of liberal excess, and for the left, one of opportunities lost. Separate and Unequal is essential for anyone seeking to understand the fraught politics of race in America.
“Gillon's research about the Kerner Commission, bolstered by hours of interviews with the surviving members, is extremely well-documented and also offers the feel of being ripped from today's headlines.... Well-rendered popular American history that also speaks to present-day issues.” - Kirkus Reviews
“Gillon's thought-provoking look into the Kerner Commission provides great insight into race issues of 1960s America.” - Publishers Weekly