Subject: Since the 1968 Kerner Commission, income inequality, wealth inequality, deep poverty, public school segregation and mass incarceration of people of color have increased. The promise of the Fair Housing Act has not been fulfilled, as Richard Rothstein has brilliantly documented in The Color of Law. The pandemic has made racial injustice, inequality and poverty disproportionately worse for people of color.
In the last fifty plus years since the Kerner Commission, we have learned a great deal about housing, economic, education, criminal justice, youth development, civil rights, and public health policy that works. Yet the American public does not for the most part understand that there are many evidence-based solutions. And, as the pandemic has illustrated, there still is considerable resistance among many Americans against policy based on evidence.
The nation has not scaled up what works because it still does not have what the Kerner Commission called “new will,” as Dr. Martin Luther King knew in 1968 when he was building his interracial and interclass coalition for economic justice. Economic justice and racial justice need to be woven together, as Dr. King and Congressman John Lewis recognized.
Now, with public discontent over the failure of the government’s response to the pandemic and with protests against police violence, a more activist American national public sector needs to seize the day for reform at a scale that is equal to the dimensions of the problem.
It is time to renegotiate the social contract, restructure basic power equations and change the rules of the game. The goal is not to get back to normal. “Normal” is the problem in America.
Yet the results of the 2020 election and the present threats to democracy in America will make it difficult for the federal government to simultaneously suppress the pandemic, revitalize the economy and reduce systemic racism, inequality and poverty. How best for the nonprofit sector to proceed over the next four years?
Join NFHA for this presentation from Dr. Curtis. There will be time for questions at the conclusion of his remarks.
About the Speaker: Dr. Alan Curtis is Co-Editor of the Choice award winning book: Healing Our Divided Society: Investing in America 50 Years after the Kerner Report, the Eisenhower Foundation’s Fifty Year Update of the 1968 National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, known as the Kerner Commission. The update concludes that the nation has made relatively little progress in reducing poverty, inequality and racial injustice since 1968.