Race & Inequality in America: The Kerner Commission at 50 conference

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In the mid-1960s, a series of violent police encounters with Black Americans sparked uprisings in more than 100 American cities. Shaken by the civil unrest across the nation in 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson established the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders to investigate the immediate causes of the rebellions, as well as the underlying conditions of racial segregation and discrimination that gave rise to them. Headed by Illinois Governor Otto Kerner, with Mayor John V. Lindsay of New York as vice chairman, the Commission issued its landmark report, which became commonly known as the “Kerner Report,” on February 29, 1968.

The Kerner Report, unanimously signed by the bipartisan and politically mainstream commission, was wide-ranging and dramatic, and concluded that white society had denied opportunity to Black Americans living in poor urban neighborhoods. The report offered both dire warnings along with a bold plan of federal action. Its most famous line, cited again by the US Supreme Court as recently as 2015, was: “Our Nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal.” In its other most memorable passage, the commission said: "What white Americans have never fully understood—but what the Negro can never forget—is that white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it, and white society condones it."

The killings of unarmed Black teenagers that sparked #BlackLivesMatter, and the ensuing movement that grew out of it, have re-awakened American consciousness to the pervasiveness of segregation, inequality, and police brutality and violence. The rise of white nationalist movements in Charlottesville and beyond, protests on college campuses, state capitols, and elsewhere over monuments and buildings that honor figures responsible for slavery and segregation, race remains at the forefront of the currents of American life.

The themes, findings, and recommendations of the Kerner Report have never seemed more relevant since its release. For that reason, the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at UC Berkeley, along with Johns Hopkins University and the Economic Policy Institute, is organizing a national conference commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Kerner Report. The conference will not only examine the legacy, successes and failures of the commission, but will envision what a contemporary Kerner Report might look like in every major area of American life, including housing, education, healthcare, policing, and more.

The "Race & Inequality in America: The Kerner Commission at 50" conference aims to serve as a landmark, comprehensive investigation of race in American society. The conference will be held February 27-March 1, 2018 at UC Berkeley, with a satellite location at Johns Hopkins University. Findings from the conference will be compiled into reports and multimedia materials to be made publicly available following the conference, in order to serve as a landmark retrospective as well as a roadmap for a policy agenda that can grapple with the challenges of racial inequality in American society.

Date: February 27 - March 1, 2018
Main Location: Pauley Ballroom, UC Berkeley, 2475 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA 94720 (registration details below)
Satellite location: Reginald F. Lewis Museum, 2nd Floor Theater, 830 E. Pratt St., Baltimore, MD 21202 (registration details here)
Who: More than 30 relevant experts, scholars, and ex-members of the Kerner Commission 

Initial planning for the conference was done by an Advisory Committee including Jack Boger, Chris Edley, Sherrilyn Ifill (represented by James Cadogan), Rucker Johnson, Elizabeth Julian, Bill Keller, Jay Kriegel, Taeku Lee, Myron Orfield, Jack Rosenthal (1935-2017) and William Julius Wilson.

SPONSORS

The 50th anniversary of the Kerner Commission report on Civil Disorders falls on March 1, 2018. The 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act occurs two months after that, along with the sesquicentennial of the 14th Amendment.  We are in the midst of a re-awakened awareness of the extent of racial segregation, inequality, and police brutality and violence, the precise themes and areas of inquiry of the Commission. Appropriately, the Kerner Commission has received renewed attention of late, including citation by the Supreme Court in its decision upholding the use of disparate impact claims in fair housing cases.

The #Kerner50 conference will also feature new work commissioned for it by poet Chinaka Hodge, St. Louis-based artist Damon Davis, San Francisco performance collective Campo Santo, and Bay Area artist Evan Bissell, and show work from Oakland artist Sadie Barnette’s piece Dear 1968. Plus: a special student art collaborative exhibit will be premiered at the Berkeley venue and a screening of the documentary Whose Streets? will take place on Feb. 28 with a discussion by co-director Sabaah Folayan.

For historical background on the Kerner Commission, read the executive summary of the 1968 report.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SPEAKERS
(Speakers denoted with an * will appear at the Baltimore satellite location. Those denoted by ** will appear in pre-recorded video interviews. All others to appear at UC Berkeley)

John Charles "Jack" Boger, former Dean of the University of North Carolina’s law school (2006-2015), & former staff counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

 

 

Jitu Brown, National Director of Journey for Justice Alliance.

 

 

Shantel Buggs, Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology, and Assistant Faculty in the Program for African American Studies, Florida State University.

 

 

Camille Z. Charles, Professor of Sociology, Africana Studies & Education, and Director of the Center for Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

 

 

Lisa A. Cooper*, Bloomberg distinguished professor, social epidemiologist, and health services researcher at Johns Hopkins University.

 

 

Linda Darling-Hammond, President of the Learning Policy Institute, & Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education Emeritus at Stanford University.

 

 

Ronald Davis, former Director of the Department of Justice COPS Office, Executive Director of President Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing, & retired police chief.

 


Shaun Donovan, US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (2009-2014), and former Director of the Office of Management and Budget (2014-2017).

 

 

Chris Edley, former Dean of the UC Berkeley law school (2004-2013), & former professor at Harvard Law.

 

 

Sabaah Folayan, storyteller and filmmaker; director of Whose Streets?

 

 

Erica Frankenberg, associate professor of education and demography in the College of Education at the Pennsylvania State University.

 

 

Robert Hahn*, General Health Scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

 

Fred Harris*, former US Senator from Oklahoma (1964-1973), & the only surviving member of the 9-member Kerner Commission.

 

 

Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. 

 

 

Rucker Johnson, Associate Professor in the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley.

 

 

Sonya Joseph, Community organizer for Brooklyn & Queens with Faith In New York, A PICO National affiliate.

 

 

Betsy Julian, Founder and Senior Counsel at the Inclusive Communities Project (ICP) in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas.

 

 

Bill Keller, editor-in-chief of The Marshall Project, & former correspondent for The New York Times (1984-2014). He served as the Times' executive editor from 2003 to 2014.

 

 

Elizabeth Kneebone, Research Director at UC Berkeley's Terner Center for Housing Innovation, and Brookings Nonresident Senior Fellow. 

 

 

John Koskinen, former head of the IRS (2013-2017), & former Non-Executive Chairman of Freddie Mac (2008-2011), and aide to the Deputy Executive Director of the Kerner Commission.


 

Jay Kriegel*, Senior Adviser at Related Companies who previously served as assistant to the Vice-Chairman of the Kerner Commission, John Lindsay.

 

 

Mitch Landrieu, mayor of New Orleans, and author of upcoming book on race, titled In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History.

 

 

Thea M. Lee, president of the Economic Policy Institute.
 


 

Christina Livingston, Executive Director of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment.

 



Ian Haney López, Earl Warren Professor of Public Law at UC Berkeley, & Director of the Haas Institute's Racial Politics Project.


 


Chris Magnus**, Tucson, Arizona police chief; former police chief of Richmond, California.

 

 

Guillermo Mayer, President & CEO of Public Advocates Inc.

 

 


Mahasin S. Mujahid, Chancellor's Professor of Public Health at UC Berkeley.

 

 

Myron Orfield, Earl R. Larson Professor of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Law at the University of Minnesota, and Director of the Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity.

 


Victor Palmieri, Deputy Executive Director of the Kerner Commission Staff.

 


 

Steven C. Pitts, Associate Chair of the UC Berkeley Labor Center.


 


john a. powell, Director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at UC Berkeley, the Robert D. Haas Chancellor’s Chair in Equity and Inclusion, & Professor of Law and Professor of African American and Ethnic Studies.

 


Richard Rothstein, Senior Fellow at the Haas Institute, a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute, and author of The Color of Law, a Forgotten History of How our Government Segregated America.

 

 

Robert Sampson, Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University & Affiliate Research Professor, the American Bar Foundation.

 

 

Sandra Susan Smith, Professor of Sociology & Interim Director of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, UC Berkeley, and author of Lone Pursuit: Distrust and Defensive Individualism among the Black Poor.

 


Eric Tang, Assistant Professor in African and African Diaspora Studies and the Center for Asian American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

 

 

Philip Tegeler, President/Executive Director of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council.

 

 

William Julius Wilson**, Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor at Harvard University.

 

 

Leana S. Wen*, Commissioner of Health for the City of Baltimore.



 

Julian Zelizer*, frequent commentator in international and national media on political history and contemporary politics, and author of The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society (2015).


AGENDA (times may change slightly as agenda is finalized)

Tuesday, February 27:
4pm - Welcome by Chancellor Carol Christ
4:10 - Introduction by john powell
4:35pm - Keynote by Shaun Donovan
5:10pm - Reading by Chinaka Hodge
5:20pm - Panel 1: America from 1968 to 2018: What’s Changed, What Hasn’t? Racial Justice and the Politics of Resentment
     Moderator: Ian Haney Lopez
     Panelists: Julian Zelizer (JHU), Eric Tang, Shantel Buggs
6:40pm - Reception with remarks by Na'ilah Nasir

Wednesday, February 28:
9am - Welcome by JHU President Ron Daniels
9:10am - Panel 2: History, Origins, and Legacy of Kerner Commission
     Moderator: John Koskinen
     Panelists: Senator Fred Harris (JHU), Victor Palmieri, Jay Kriegel (JHU)
10:20am - Student Collective Readings
10:35am - Panel 3Black Lives Matter & Criminal Justice Reform
     Moderator: Bill Keller
     Panelists: Sandra Smith, Ronald Davis, Sonya Joseph, Chris Magnus (video)
12:30pm - Lunch keynote by Robert Sampson
1:45pm - Dramatic Reading by Campo Santo
2pm - Panel 4: Housing & Neighborhoods
     Moderator: Richard Rothstein
     Panelists: Betsy Julian, Camille Charles, Myron Orfield
3:45pm - Panel 5: Employment, Jobs and Transportation
     Moderator: Thea Lee
     Panelists: Steven Pitts, Elizabeth Kneebone, Guillermo Mayer, William Julius Wilson (video)
7pm: Film Screening of Whose Streets? plus discussion with director Sabaah Folayan

Thursday, March 1 (8:45am - 3pm):
8:45am - Welcome address by Mitch Landrieu
9am - Panel 6: Health and Race (JHU)
     Moderator: Lisa Cooper
     Panelists: Leana Wen, Robert Hahn, Mahasin S. Mujahid
10:40am - Panel 7: Education, Achievement, and Performance
     Moderator: Erica Frankenburg
     Panelists: Rucker Johnson,  Linda Darling-Hammond, Jitu Brown
12:25pm - Lunch keynote by Sherrilyn Ifill
1:20pm - Panel 8: Remedies, Big and Small
     Moderator: Chris Edley
     Panelists: John Boger, Christina Livingston, Phil Tegler

REGISTRATION FOR BERKELEY LOCATION
(Registration details for Baltimore satellite found here)

LOCATION

The Kerner Commission at 50 Conference will begin Tuesday, February 27, 2018 at 4:00pm and will go through Thursday, March 1, 2018 at 3:00pm at the following location:

MLK Pauley Ballroom on UC Berkeley campus, 2475 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA 94720.

See below for direction to the location.

FOOD

The conference includes a cocktail reception Tuesday night, and continental breakfasts and sandwich lunches on Wednesday and Thursday. 

REGISTRATION FEES

Pay It Forward, Businesses and Foundations: $250
You are part of a for-profit company, foundation or educational institute that has a budget for conferences or are an individual with the means to cover the actual per person cost of the conference. Register here.

Individuals: $75
This subsidized registration option is for non-UCB students, UC staff and faculty, employees from smaller nonprofit organizations, or individuals who cannot afford to cover the unsubsidized registration option. Register here.

UC Berkeley Students: $3.95
UC Berkeley students must use their berkeley.edu emails when registering for the conference to be eligible for this rate, and must present their Cal IDs at the door. Register here.

Group Discounts:
Unfortunately, we are unable to offer group registration discounts for this conference.

Scholarship Funding:
We have a very limited number of scholarships available on a first come basis if you are unable to afford the $75 registration fee. Please contact Alycia Tulloch for a link to the scholarship application. There is no application fee.  However, if your application is accepted, there will be a processing fee that must be paid at the time of your acceptance of an awarded scholarship.  

PAYMENT METHODS

The online registration system is set up to accept major credit cards.  

* If you are an individual who would like to pay by check, select that payment option during your online registration, complete and print out your registration form, and send along with a check made payable to UC Board of Regents. Write “Haas Institute Kerner Conference" in the memo line and mail in advance of the conference date to:

Puanani Forbes
Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society
460 Stephens Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-2330

If you are a campus group in the UC system and would like to pay by chartstring, please contact Puanani Forbes to receive a code for online registration.

Group Registration
If you are a paying for multiple members of a group, you can do this via Regonline and the first person registered in the group will be charged. If members of the group are paying individually (for example, with different credit cards), you must create separate registrations for each. 

Hotel Rooms
The conference is not holding a room block at a particular hotel. Below is a list of hotels in the area within close walking or BART proximity to the Kerner Commission Conference location.  

• Hotel Shattuck Plaza
If you would like to reserve a room, click here.

• Bancroft Hotel
If you would like to reserve a room, click here.

• Oakland Marriot City Center
If you would like to reserve a room, click here.

• Graduate Berkeley
If you would like to reserve a room, click here.

• Berkeley City Club
If you would like to reserve a room, click here.

• SenS Hotel (formerly the French Hotel)
If you would like to reserve a room, click here.

• Faculty Club @ UC Berkeley

If you would like to reserve a room, click here.

Cancellation and Substitutions Policy

  • After February 1, we are unable to refund any fees for registration.

  • Cancellations requested before February 1 are eligible for a refund of all monies less a $40 cancellation fee for each registration. 

  • Failure to appear for the conference will result in forfeiture of the full registration fee.

  • Requests to substitute registrations can only be processed until February 9.

ACCESSIBILITY

  • All conference proceedings will be wheelchair accessible with accessible parking nearby. 

  • To request disability accommodations, please contact Alycia Tulloch or leave a message at 510-642-3326 with your request. We kindly request advance notice if you have access needs.

  • CART captioning will be present at the conference. 

  • Contact Alycia Tulloch at least 14 days in advance if you have a specific request for language interpretation.

HOW TO GET HERE

Downtown Berkeley BART to MLK Pauley Ballroom:

 
 

CONTACT
If you have any questions about registration, accessibility, or any of the above, please email Stephen Menendian or leave a message on our conference line at 510-642-3326.

 

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