On July 28, 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson created the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, known as the Kerner Commission, to investigate the causes of race-related uprisings that had taken place in Detroit and dozens of other cities, and to provide recommendations for the future. We are now in the midst of the 50th anniversary of the Kerner Commission.
The Kerner Report was released on February 29, 1968, after seven months of investigation, revealing that poverty, racism, and the police were the cause of the unrest in inner city Black communities. Its most famous passage states, “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal.” President Johnson silenced the report, refusing to release it. It was nevertheless published by Bantam Books, under a pre-existing agreement, and became a national best-seller. When you read the report, it feels as if it could have been written today.
We talk with Former Oklahoma Senator Fred Harris, the last surviving member of the Kerner Commission.
I hope you enjoy this fascinating and timely conversation.
We talk with author, filmmaker and native Baltimorean D. Watkins, about his article “Too poor for pop culture,” which was published last week on Salon. Watkins teaches at Coppin State University and runs a writing workshop on Creative Nonfiction at the Baltimore Freedom School.
Last week marked the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s declaration of a war on poverty. We kick-off the week with a 2-hour special on how far we have – and haven’t – come in the fight against poverty over the past 50 years.
We begin with a look back at the history of the war on poverty and what President Johnson’s declaration really meant. Our panel of guests includes: Dr.Peniel Joseph, author and professor of History at Tufts University, whose books include Waiting ‘Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America; Dr.Annelise Orleck, professor of history at Dartmouth and author of Storming Caesar’s Palace: How Black Mothers Fought Their Own War on Poverty; and Timothy Casey, Senior Staff Attorney and Director of the Women & Poverty Program at Legal Momentum, and author of the report “Too Little Progress,” about the war on poverty.
Then we look at how poverty is defined in the 21st Century, with Dr. Michael Reisch, Daniel Thursz Distinguished Professor of Social Justice at the University of Maryland.
We host a policy debate on how to address poverty today, with: Imara Jones, economic justice contributor for Colorlines.com; Rachel Sheffield, policy analyst in the Devos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the Heritage Foundation; and and Jeff Singer, Founder and former Executive Director of Healthcare for the Homeless.
We close out the show by hearing from low-wage workers and grassroots organizers who are working with people in poverty, who will address the minimum wage, housing, and other issues. Our guests will be: Luis Larin, Leadership Organizer for United Workers; Guetwende Yameogo, a cook at Silver Diner at BWI-Thurgood Marshall Airport; Mike Hachey, Unite Here organizer at BWI/Thurgood Marshall Airport; and Jeff Singer, Founder and former Executive Director of Healthcare for the Homeless.
We reflect on the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, a super storm that caused massive damage on the East Coast. We talk about the challenges those affected are still facing in the year after the storm and what it says about climate change with:
We talk about a recent study out of the University of Pennsylvania that reveals how poverty can affect brain function. Our guests will be: Dr. Brian B. Avants, assistant professor of Radiology at Penn, who co-authored the study; Adanna Johnson-Evans, psychologist and owner of Ipako Wellness Counseling; and Dante Wilson, CEO and founder of Reclaiming Our Children and Community Project, Inc.
In one of our Peabody Award-winning Just Words segments, we meet Gloria Knight, a state-contracted daycare provider who is unable to afford health insurance. A bicycle accident left her with a $50,000 hospital bill. Gloria discusses the benefits she thinks would stem from unionizing child care providers in Maryland.
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Our Peabody Award
The Center for Emerging Media is proud to announce that it is a winner of the 2007 George Foster Peabody Award for excellence in broadcast media! CEM is being honored for the 2007 series Just Words. Listen to Just Words »