Healing Our Divided Society: The Kerner Commission Fiftieth Anniversary Book

The Kerner Fiftieth Report Card

The Kerner Commission Fiftieth Anniversary Book

Healing Our Divided Society: The New York Times Op Ed

Healing Our Divided Society: Executive Summary of the Book

Healing Our Divided Society: Forum Presentations Summarizing the Book

Healing Our Divided Society: The George Washington University Forum on February 27, 2018.

Healing Our Divided Society: The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Learning Policy Institute Forum on February 28, 2018.

Healing Our Divided Society

Investing in America Fifty Years after the Kerner Report

Edited by Fred Harris and Alan Curtis

A fiftieth anniversary look back at the Kerner Report


In 1968, the Kerner Commission concluded that America was heading toward “two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal.” Today, America’s communities are experiencing increasing racial tensions and inequality, working-class resentment over the unfulfilled American Dream, white supremacy violence, toxic inaction in Washington, and the decline of the nation’s example around the world.

In Healing Our Divided Society, Fred Harris, the last surviving member of the Kerner Commission, along with Eisenhower Foundation CEO Alan Curtis, re-examine fifty years later the work still necessary towards the goals set forth in The Kerner Report. This timely volume unites the interests of minorities and white working- and middle-class Americans to propose a strategy to reduce poverty, inequality, and racial injustice. Reflecting on America’s urban climate today, this new report sets forth evidence-based policies concerning employment, education, housing, neighborhood development, and criminal justice based on what has been proven to work—and not work.

Contributors include Oscar Perry Abello, Elijah Anderson, Anil N. F. Aranha, Jared Bernstein, Henry G. Cisneros, Elliott Currie, Linda Darling-Hammond, Martha F. Davis, E. J. Dionne, Jr., Marian Wright Edelman, Delbert S. Elliott, Carol Emig, Jeff Faux, Ron Grzywinski, Michael P. Jeffries, Lamar K. Johnson, Celinda Lake, Marilyn Melkonian, Gary Orfield, Diane Ravitch, Laurie O. Robinson, Herbert C. Smitherman, Jr., Joseph E. Stiglitz, Dorothy Stoneman, Kevin K. Washburn, Valerie Wilson, Gary Younge, Julian E. Zelizer, and the editors.

Sometimes it comes to the point of absurdity, for example, a special Viagra for blacks or for whites, although it is obvious that the generic Viagra acts equally on a representative of any race.

Table of Contents

About the Eisenhower Foundation

Introduction and the History of the Kerner Report

Part I. Evidence-Based Policy

    1. Policy That Works
    2. Economic and Employment Policy
    3. Education Policy
    4. Housing and Neighborhood Investment Policy
    5. Criminal Justice Policy and Mass Incarceration
    6. Domestic Reform, Global Impact
    7. Financing Reform
    8. New Will

Part II. Perspectives from the Fiftieth-Anniversary National Advisory Council

    Economic and Employment Policy
    1. Economic Justice: Fifty Years after the Kerner Report • Joseph E. Stiglitz
    2. The Policy Agenda to Address Racial Injustice • Jared Bernstein
    3. The Case for Solidarity • Jeff Faux
    4. The Power of Love Coupled with Opportunity • Dorothy Stoneman
    5. Fifty Years since the 1967 Rebellion, Have Health and Health Care Services Improved? • Herbert C. Smitherman, Jr., Lamar K. Johnson,and Anil N. F. Aranha

    Education Policy
    6. Education and the Path to One Nation, Indivisible • Linda Darling-Hammond
    7. Education: Racial and Social Justice • Diane Ravitch
    8. Kerner and Kids: Work Remains • Carol Emig
    9. Still Struggling to Change the Odds for America’s Poor Children and Children of Color • Marian Wright Edelman
    10. A New Civil Rights Agenda • Gary Orfield

    Housing and Neighborhood Investment Policy
    11. Housing: A National Anthem • Oscar Perry Abello, with Ron Grzywinski and Marilyn Melkonian
    12. Race Relations since the Ghetto Riots of the 1960s • Elijah Anderson

    Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Policy
    13. Evidence-Based Programs, Policies, and Practices • Delbert S. Elliott
    14. Policing in the United States: From the Kerner Legacy Looking Forward • Laurie O. Robinson
    15. Race, Violence, and Criminal Justice • Elliott Currie

    Equality and Inclusion
    16. Suffering and Citizenship: Racism and Black Life • Michael P. Jeffries
    17. New Dimensions of Equity: The Experience of American Latinos • Henry G. Cisneros
    18. Everybody Does Better in Indian Country When Tribes Are Empowered • Kevin K. Washburn
    19. We Must Do Better: Fifty Years of Fitful Progress for Women • Martha F. Davis

    New Will and the Media
    20. Messaging Strategy Needed to Combat Inequality Today • Celinda Lake
    21. The Kerner Commission and the Challenge of Politics: The “New Ethnicity,” Class, and Racial Justice • E. J. Dionne, Jr.
    22. The Media and Race Relations • Julian E. Zelizer
    23. Sometimes, “Dog Bites Man” Really Is the Story • Gary Younge


About the Author(s)

Fred Harris is a former U. S. Senator, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, University of New Mexico, and the last surviving member of the Kerner Commission. He is the author of The New Populism and co-editor of Quiet Riots: Race and Poverty in the United States: The Kerner Report Twenty Years Later.

Alan Curtis is President and CEO of The Eisenhower Foundation. He was Executive Director of President Jimmy Carter’s Urban Policy Group and is editor of American Violence and Public Policy and Patriotism, Democracy, and Common Sense: Restoring America's Promise at Home and Abroad. He is replicating the Quantum Opportunities model that graduates at-risk youth from high school in low-income communities.