(GEORGE CURRY MEDIA)—“Our nation is moving toward two societies, one Black, one White—separate and unequal…The alternative is not blind repression or capitulation to lawlessness. It is the realization of common opportunities for all within a single society.”
Those words weren’t written or spoken to describe today’s crisis of race and injustice now being exposed, condemned and lamented in a flood of videos, news articles, opinion columns and polls. They were written a half-century ago for the 1968 Kerner Report, the document of the emergency presidential commission that examined the causes of the Black urban rebellions that convulsed American society just at the moment when the Civil Rights Movement had achieved its great national legislative victories from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s.
Of course, the Kerner Report deliberately got the first part of that famous assessment wrong. America was not “moving” toward two societies. It had always been. The so-called “White backlash” that erupted in both the South and the North in the early 1960s and the Black urban rebellions that came later both illuminated how difficult re-constructing American society as one nation “indivisible” still was.