When the Kerner Commission investigated racial strife in the United States, the members warned that “our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal.” Furthermore, the commission excoriated journalists for ignoring African Americans’ complaints about police abuse, inferior schools and segregated housing. The commission stung U.S. journalists with this attack: “The media report and write from the standpoint of a white man’s world. The ills of the ghetto, the difficulties of life there, the Negro’s burning sense of grievance are seldom conveyed.” That was 50 years ago. The Kerner Commission was a blue-ribbon panel of prominent civic leaders appointed by President Johnson to investigate the problems that led to a series of riots—many called them “rebellions”—that burst out in cities across the country during the 1960s. In recent weeks there have been many events and campaigns to observe the Kerner Commission’s 50th anniversary.
Blog / Kerner Commission
On Monday morning, I joined hundreds of family members, friends, journalists and funders in mourning the death of Dori J. Maynard, the president of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education and an unflinching critic of the news media’s treatment of African Americans and other minority groups. She passed away on Feb. 24 from lung cancer at the age of 56. Later that night, I conjured Dori’s spirit, values and teachings to help students in my media class at San Francisco State University understand the need to promote diversity in journalism.