President Clinton coming to Penn

Forty years ago, the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders issued a report that revealed a deep racial divide in America.

What became known as the “Kerner Commission Report” pointed to a link between the race riots that had rocked cities in the 1960s and the media’s failure to report on the concerns of African-Americans. And in the report’s chilling conclusion, the Commission wrote: “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal.”

But how does the country look today, 40 years after this landmark report was issued? The Annenberg School and Penn’s Center for Africana Studies have joined with the Institute for Advanced Journalism Studies at North Carolina A&T State University to find out, working together to assess exactly how America has responded to the Kerner Commission’s recommendations.

At Penn, this effort will be highlighted by the appearance later this month of former President Bill Clinton, who will open the two-day “Kerner Plus 40” symposium with a keynote speech at 11 a.m. on Feb. 28 at Irvine Auditorium. North Carolina A&T will host another symposium on Feb. 25 and 26.

Clinton’s speech is free, but tickets are required and are limited to PennCard holders only. Tickets will be available on Feb. 25 and Feb. 26 at the Annenberg Center Box Office, 3680 Walnut St.

Other panelists at the two-day Penn event include Associate Professor of Sociology Camille Charles; Geraldine R. Segal Professor of History Mary Francis Berry; Annenberg Dean Michael Delli Carpini; Professor of Law Anita Allen-Castellito; and Professor of Sociology Tukufu Zuberi. They will be joined by journalists and other scholars for panel discussions on race relations at the time of the Kerner Report and now and race in the media.

For more information on the symposium, visit the Center for Africana Studies website:

Originally published Feb. 21, 2008.

Originally published on February 21, 2008