Kerner Report, the 1968 report of a federal government commission that investigated urban riots in the United States.
The Kerner Report was released after seven months of investigation by the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders and took its name from the commission chairman, Illinois Governor Otto Kerner.
President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed the commission on July 28, 1967, while rioting was still underway in Detroit, Michigan. The long, hot summers since 1965 had brought riots in the black sections of many major cities, including Los Angeles (1965), Chicago (1966), and Newark (1967). Johnson charged the commission with analyzing the specific triggers for the riots, the deeper causes of the worsening racial climate of the time, and potential remedies.
The commission presented its findings in 1968, concluding that urban violence reflected the profound frustration of inner-city blacks and that racism was deeply embedded in American society.
The report’s most famous passage warned that the United States was "moving toward two societies, one black, one white — separate and unequal." The commission marshaled evidence on an array of problems that fell with particular severity on African Americans, including not only overt discrimination but also chronic poverty, high unemployment, poor schools, inadequate housing, lack of access to health care, and systematic police bias and brutality.
The report recommended sweeping federal initiatives directed at improving educational and employment opportunities, public services, and housing in black urban neighborhoods and called for a "national system of income supplementation." The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., pronounced the report a "physician’s warning of approaching death, with a prescription for life." By 1968, however, Richard M. Nixon had gained the presidency through a conservative white backlash that insured that the Kerner Report’s recommendations would be largely ignored.