Recognizing that an historic study of American racism and police violence should become part of today’s canon, Jelani Cobb contextualizes it for a new generation.
The Kerner Commission Report, released a month before Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1968 assassination, is among a handful of government reports that reads like an illuminating history book—a dramatic, often shocking, exploration of systemic racism that transcends its time. Yet Columbia University professor and New Yorker correspondent Jelani Cobb argues that this prescient report, which examined more than a dozen urban uprisings between 1964 and 1967, has been woefully neglected.
In an enlightening new introduction, Cobb reveals how these uprisings were used as political fodder by Republicans and demonstrates that this condensed edition of the Report should be essential reading at a moment when protest movements are challenging us to uproot racial injustice. A detailed examination of economic inequality, race, and policing, the Report has never been more relevant, and demonstrates to devastating effect that it is possible for us to be entirely cognizant of history and still tragically repeat it.