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Final Report and Background Papers 

Edited by Philip Meranto 






301 .451 
COD .4 

I .H.S 


Final Report and Background Papers 

Allerton House, Monticello, Illinois 
January 11-13, 1970 

Edited by Philip Meranto 



JUNE 1970 

/4a^'Z?-A foreword 

Well over a year ago, the National Advisory Commission on Civil Dis- 
orders published its far-reaching report identifying the causes of urban racial 
violence. This important government document made a wide range of recom- 
mendations that should be implemented if future racial disorder is to be 
averted. The Commission became known as the Kerner Commission in 
deference to its chairman, then Illinois Governor and now U.S. Circuit 
Judge Otto Kerner. 

As with many study commission reports, there is a tendency to file the 
report and to virtually ignore its recommendations. To see if this was the 
case, and to review the recommendations, the Institute of Government and 
Public Affairs devoted its twelfth public affairs assembly to the topic of the 
Kerner Report Revisited. The Assembly was held at the University's con- 
ference center at Robert Allerton Park, Monticello, Illinois, January 11-13, 

Judge Kerner was unable to participate, but he did write that "You 
and the Assembly are doing precisely what the Commission hoped would be 
done at a federal level where there would be an assembly point for gathering 
information, analyzing it and drawing conclusions. You have no idea how 
pleased I am that you have assumed this responsibility." 

Participating in the Assembly were some forty Illinois leaders from political 
life, business, journalism, and the academic world. They were chosen for 
their knowledge and interest on the topic under discussion. The participants 
were divided into three round-table groups for discussion and a "Statement 
of Findings" was adopted by the participants at a final plenary session. 

To aid the Assembly participants in their discussion, background papers 
were prepared on the various areas that were of concern to the Kerner Com- 
mission. Emphasis was on the implementation of the Commission recom- 
mendations in Illinois and elsewhere. The authors were given maximum 
freedom in preparing their papers, and the views and interpretations are 
their own. The authors are from several academic departments of the Uni- 
versity of Illinois. We are grateful to them. 

We are also grateful to the Assembly's two keynote speakers, Professors 
Mack Jones and David Olson, and to Chancellor Jack Peltason for his opening 
remarks. Lastly, we thank all the participants for their fine contribution 
to the success of the Assembly. 

Samuel K. Gove 

Director, Institute of Government 

and Public Affairs 






Philip Meranto 9 


Walter Franke 13 


J. Myron Atkin 25 


Merlin Taber 31 


Michael Murray 45 


David J. Bordua 59 


Gene Graham 87 


Thomas Kitsos and Joseph Pisciotte 97 


Marvin G. Weinbaum 119 


Norton E. Long 135 


Michael Parenti 143 



Mack H. Jones 153 


David J. Olson 163 





The participants in the Illinois Assembly on the Kerner Report 
Revisited meeting at Robert AUerton Park, Monticello, Illinois, 
January 11-13, 1970, approved this summary of their findings 
at the conclusion of their discussions. Since there were dissents on 
particular points, it should not be assumed that every participant 
subscribed to every detail of the statements contained herein. 

The Assembly concludes that the Kerner Report [Report of 
the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders) was a 
forthright effort to respond to the racial disturbances of 1967. 
The fact that the Commission dispelled the notion that outside 
agitators stimulated disorder and implicated white society as 
being responsible for ghetto conditions, and the accompanying 
violence, was viewed by the Assembly participants as an impor- 
tant but incomplete contribution to public understanding. 

The Report, however, also had several shortcomings. Its basic 
finding that "white racism" was the fundamental cause of racial 
disorders and the emphasis placed upon that finding by the mass 
media have given the erroneous impression that the guilt of white 
society is simply a matter of prejudicial attitudes. The Kerner 
Commission Report failed to specify exactly what was meant 
by white racism and largely ignored the problem of institutional 
racism — the less overt, more subtle acts that sustain and per- 
petuate racist policies in virtually every American institution. 
Thus, the Report placed too much emphasis on changing white 
attitudes and underplayed the importance of changing white 

behavior and the basic structure of such institutions as schools, 
labor unions, and political parties. 

The Commission also failed to note that many whites may not 
be motivated primarily by racial prejudice, but may be respond- 
ing to what they feel is an objective threat to their own self-inter- 
est. For example, white construction workers may oppose black 
workers, not only because of racial attitudes, but also because of 
labor market characteristics. 

Additionally, the Report tended to dismiss too easily the grow- 
ing emphasis of black nationalism within black communities and 
thus failed to deal with the implications of this changing mood 
for the larger society. 


The shortcomings of the Report itself are not so important 
as the shortcomings of white society in rooting out racism. The 
background papers and discussions made it clear that during 
the past two years black people in Illinois have gained very little 
relative to white people in such areas as employment, education, 
and housing. In short, the reception of the Report by the govern- 
ment and the people to which it was addressed has been ex- 
tremely disappointing. Consequently, the Assembly participants 
strongly urge that this state and the nation be put on a "crisis 
footing," which includes making a major commitment of re- 
sources for implementing the Report's recommendations. Such 
a commitment would necessitate a considerably increased public 
sector and a reallocation within the public sector from military 
to domestic expenditures. 

The stimulation of such a commitment requires the mobili- 
zation of political resources. Consequently, the Assembly urges 
white society to support and facilitate the development of black 
organizations and black political action. Further, the Assembly 
urges all segments of white society to recognize their own self- 
interest in achieving racial justice and to engage in political 
action directed toward that goal. 

Finally, the participants were deeply disturbed by the incli- 
nation of some governmental bodies to respond to black needs 

with repression rather than reform. America cannot be a just 
society if repression is substituted for redressing the inequalities 
of our society. 


Our extremely common response of political leaders is the 
creation of commissions whenever an especially intractable prob- 
lem appears on the political scene. Commission studies too often 
serve to deflect attention from the problems at hand and to re- 
duce the level of political activity that might be undertaken to 
solve them. Regrettably, the Kerner Report, through no fault 
of the Commission, has fallen into this pattern. 

The habit of appointing commissions also indicates a tendency 
to study problems to death rather than to institute meaningful 
action. The Assembly believes this particular problem has had 
sufficient study by commissions and that the energy of responsi- 
ble authorities should now be directed to the implementation of 
reforms w hich are essential to peace and justice in the society. 




On July 28, 1967, after four summers of unprecedented racial disorders 
in American cities, President Lyndon Johnson established the National Ad- 
visory Commission on Civil Disorders. The President directed the Commission 
to deal with three basic questions concerning the outbreak of urban violence : 
(1) What happened? (2) Why did it happen? (3) What can be done to 
prevent it from happening again? 

Under the direction of Governor Otto Kerner of Illinois (Chairman) 
and Mayor John V. Lindsay of New York City (Vice Chairman), the 
Commission launched the nation's most comprehensive investigation of racial 
strife. Commission members^ and their stafT visited riot cities, conducted 
numerous hearings, and consulted with a wide variety of knowledgeable 
individuals. In March, 1968, the Commission delivered, to the President 
and the American public, a 581 -page report detailing their findings. 

Concerning the question of what happened, the Commission established 
several important facts. Contrary to a widely held public impression that 
many of the disorders were planned by black extremist organizations and/or 
communist conspirators, the Commission reported that it "found no evidence 
that all or any of the disorders or the incidents that led to them were planned 
or directed by any organization or group, international, national, or local."^ 
While the Report indicated that there was no such entity as a "typical" 
riot, several common features were identified. It was found, for example, 
that violence did not erupt as a result of a single precipitating event, but 
was usually generated out of a series of tension-building incidents which 
occurred over a period of time and were capped by a quite often routine 
event (generally involving police action of some sort) which triggered the 
disorder. Once the disorder broke out, the targets of violence generally 

' In addition to Chairman Kerner and Vice Chairman Lindsay, the Commission 
included: Senator Fred R. Harris; Senator Edward W. Brooke; Representative James 
C. Corman; Representative William M. McCullock; I. W. Abel, President, United 
Steelworkers of America; Charles B. Thornton, Chairman of the Board, Litton In- 
dustries, Inc. ; Roy Wilkins, Executive Director, National Association for the Ad- 
vancement of Colored People ; Katherine Graham Peden, Commissioner of Commerce, 
State of Kentucky; and Herbert Jenkins, Chief of Police, Atlanta, Georgia. 

^Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (New York: 
Bantam Books, 1968), p. 9. 

consisted of the symbols of white society, authority figures, and property in 
the ghetto, rather than white persons. The overwhelming majority of the indi- 
viduals killed or injured as a result of the violence was Negro civilians. The 
Report described the typical rioter in the following manner: "a teenager or 
young adult, a lifetime resident of the city in which he rioted, a school drop- 
out; he was, nevertheless, somewhat better educated than his nonrioting 
Negro neighbor, and was usually under-employed or employed in a menial 
job. He was proud of his race, extremely hostile to both whites and middle- 
class Negroes, and, although informed about politics, highly distrustful of 
the political system."^ 

Turning to the question of why the racial disorders occurred, the Com- 
mission uncovered several basic causes. Among the various causes, the Report 
concluded that: "the most fundamental is the racial attitude and behavior 
of white Americans toward black Americans. 

. . . White racism is essentially responsible for the explosive mixture 
which has been accumulating in our cities since the end of World War II."* 
In specifying the ingredients of this "explosive mixture," the Report included 
such factors as: 

1. Pervasive discrimination and segregation in employment, education, 
and housing, which has resulted in the continuing exclusion of great numbers 
of Negroes from the benefits of economic progress. 

2. The concentration of impoverished Negroes in major cities, creating a 
growing crisis of deteriorating facilities and services and unmet human needs. 

3. The restriction of Negroes in ghettos where segregation and poverty 
converge on the young to destroy opportunity and enforce failure. 

4. A backlog of frustrated hopes as a result of the unfilled expecta- 
tions aroused by the judicial and legislative victories of the Civil Rights 

5. The development of a social climate which tends to approve and 
encourage violence as a form of protest resulting from white terrorism directed 
against nonviolent protest, the open defiance of law and federal authority by 
state and local officials resisting desegregation, and the utilization of civil 
disobedience by some protest groups who do not adhere to nonviolence. 

6. A pervasive feeling of powerlessness among Negroes that there is no ef- 
fective alternative to violence as a means of achieving redress of grievances 
which include: police practices, unemployment and underemployment, 
inadequate housing, inadequate educational opportunities, poor recreational 
facilities, and ineffective grievance mechanisms. 

In summary, then, the Commission concluded that the basic underlying 
causes of racial disorders stemmed primarily from the actions and conditions 

' Ibid., p. 7. 
* Ibid., p. 10. 

created by white Americans. Focusing on the destructive environment of 
the ghetto, the Report states: "What white Americans have never fully 
understood — but the Negro can never forget — is that white society is 
deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it, white insti- 
tutions maintain it, and white society condones it."^ 

After recounting the historical roots of the basic causes, the Report in- 
cluded a series of recommendations to prevent the eruption of future racial 
violence. Although numerous specific recommendations were made, the 
following list indicates the more general remedies set forth by the Commission. 

1. The enactment of special programs in the areas of housing, education, 
employment, and welfare to eliminate discrimination and to provide greatly 
expanded opportunities for ghetto residents. 

2. Improvement in the channels of communications between ghetto 
residents and government officials, including more responsive grievance 

3. Expansion of the opportunities for ghetto residents to participate 
in all phases of decision-making. 

4. Improved police protection in ghetto communities and improved 
police practices relative to the treatment of black citizens. 

5. Improvement in the training of police so as to achieve better control 
of incidents which could lead to future disorder, and the refrainment from the 
indiscriminate and excessive use of police force. "The Commission condemns 
moves to equip police departments with mass destruction weapons, such 
as automatic rifles, machine guns, and tanks." 

Looking toward the future, the Kerner Commission Report indicated that 
American society could pursue three basic policy alternatives. It could main- 
tain the present policies which allocate a meager proportion of the nation's 
wealth to the disadvantaged and have failed to achieve an integrated society. 
Alternatively, it could follow a policy of "enrichment," which would dra- 
matically improve the quality of ghetto life but abandon integration as a goal. 
Or, America could adopt a policy of integration by combining ghetto "en- 
richment" with programs designed to disperse blacks from central cities. 

The Commission warned that: "To continue present policies is to make 
permanent the division of our country into two societies; one, largely Negro 
and poor, located in central cities; the other, predominantly white and affluent, 
located in the suburbs and in outlying areas."*' 

Which of the above choices has been pursued? In what direction are 
American race relations heading and why? These were the basic questions 
posed at the Institute of Government and Public AfTairs 1970 Assembly. In 
order to stimulate an informed discussion on such questions, several partici- 

nbld., p. 2. 
' Ibid., p. 22. 

pants were invited to write background papers in preparation for the Assembly 
and two guest speakers delivered papers. 

The composite picture which emerged from the papers and the talks is not 
an encouraging one. Although some marginal positive gains were identified, 
those gains were clearly the exceptions to the general conclusion of virtually 
all the authors that the Kerner Commission recommendations have been 
largely ignored. Indeed, Professor Mack Jones of Atlanta University maintains 

. . . things have gotten worse for Black people. Some welfare programs are being 
cut; the Nixon-Mitchell administration is obviously unfriendly toward the Black 
liberation struggle; hostile forces have been sent to city halls and state houses in 
alarming numbers; police forces around the country have stockpiled monstrous 
arsenals to pacify Black communities; the McClelland subcommittee has published 
more than 20 volumes, including mugshots, on radical groups paving the way for 
quick identification and perhaps elimination; demographers tell us that Black in- 
migration to the cities will continue, and we do not need demographers to tell us 
that whites will continue to run to the suburbs. Thus, cities are likely to become 
impoverished islands inhabitated by nationalist-oriented Black people and sur- 
rounded by affluent suburbs inhabited by nationalist-oriented \vhite people. 

Why the society continues to move in this disastrous direction was not com- 
pletely answered. However, several of the writers did identify factors which 
have contributed to the drift. Professor Olson, for example, argued that it was 
misleading to assume, as many have, that riot commission reports are capable 
of stimulating significant political change. In his estimation, "riot commissions 
are devices by -which dominant power interests deflect demands for power 
redistribution in the aftermath of civil violence." In this sense, riot com- 
missions and their recommendations are instmments which essentially reduce 
the pressure on public officials to take meaningful action. Additionally, Pro- 
fessor Weinbaum pointed out that the Kerner Report did not present its 
recommendations in a manner that was sensitive to the realities of gaining 
majorities in Congress for individual recommendations. This, in fact, he ex- 
plains, is why the Commission's proposals received so little consideration on 
Capitol Hill. 

Professors Long and Parenti, however, suggest that the problem is con- 
siderably deeper than the form in which proposals for change are presented. 
Long argues that "If what the Kerner Commission calls for is indeed neces- 
sary, it is probably beyond the power of American society as presently con- 
stituted." He notes that the political problem is a vicious circle in which the 
powerless cannot produce change because they are powerless. According to 
Parenti, this circumstance challenges the commonly accepted notion that 
American institutions, as they are presently constructed and controlled, are 
capable of producing significant reform. "Given the 'three R's' of politics — 
Reform, Repression, and Revolution — it can no longer be taken as an article 
of faith that we are movinar toward the first." 




Two years, the time period since the Kerner Commission Report, is a 
ver>' short time for assessing the employment progress of any group in the 
labor force. The American labor force comprises over 80 million persons, 
nearly 90 per cent of whom are white. In a typical year, between 1.5 and 2.0 
million additional jobs are created. By virtue of the relative sizes of the white- 
nonwhite components of the labor force and new entrants into it, most of the 
new jobs that are created, as well as existing jobs that open up because of 
quits, retirements, and deaths, will be filled by whites. Using even the most 
optimistic assumptions and goals for improvement in the job status of Negroes, 
therefore, dramatic change is likely to occur over decades rather than years. 

Nevertheless, it should be useful to look at the job situation for Negroes 
currently and in the recent past, consider what is required to continue in the 
long run the progress that has been made recently, and examine current pro- 
grams designed to improve the employment prospects of Negroes and other 
disadvantaged groups in light of the Kerner Commission recommendations. 

The Job Situation 

The economic goal for Negroes is full equality. From the point of view of 
emplo)Tnent, this can be interpreted to mean that Negro workers should be 
represented proportionately in the major occupational groupings.^ Several 
factors, including the uneven geographic distribution of the Negro labor force, 
will result in departures from a common occupational distribution for whites 
and nonwhites even in a situation of equality, but comparable distributions for 
the two groups can ser\'e as a rough norm of equality. 

The data in Table 1 show the job situation currently and in the recent 
past. As is well known, Negroes are grossly overrepresented in the unskilled 
laborer and service categories.^ Although they comprise less than 1 1 per cent 
of total employment, Negroes are nearly 25 per cent of all unskilled laborers, 
44 per cent of private household workers, and over 23 per cent of all service 

' This standard is suggested by Otto Eckstein, Education, Employment and Negro 
Equality (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Labor, Seminar on Manpower 
Policy and Program, October, 1968), p. 4. 

" The figures are for nonwhites. Since Negroes represent over four-fifths of all 
nonwhites, the figures can be used to approximate the situation for Negroes. 

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workers. For the most part, although important exceptions exist, these are 
occupational groups in which pay and status are relatively low. Negroes are 
seriously underrepresented, on the other hand, in occupational groups which 
are generally better paid and more attractive in other respects. They com- 
prise between 3 per cent and 8 per cent of total employment in the skilled 
craftsmen and white-collar occupations. 

Although these figures show a serious departure from the norm of equality, 
they also represent a considerable improvement from the recent past. Com- 
pared with 1962, and even with as recent a period as 1967, the proportion 
that Negroes represent of employment in the skilled craftsmen and in each 
of the white-collar categories has increased. The gains have been greatest in 
the professional and technical, clerical, and craftsmen categories. Only slight 
improvement has occurred in the sales and in the managers, officials, and 
proprietors categories. 

Clearly, new and greater employment opportunities have presented them- 
selves to Negro members of the labor force during the past half dozen years. 
Prompted by the efforts and activities of civil rights groups and the require- 
ments of the law, significant changes in the attitude of many employers toward 
the hiring of black workers has occurred. And some movement in the direc- 
tion of equality of opportunity has also taken place in those portions of the 
labor movement previously noted for their poor record. 

A further measure of inequality between the races is the extent of unemploy- 
ment. For many years the rate of unemployment for Negroes has been ap- 
proximately double that of whites and has frequently been greater. The latest 
figures on unemployment stand precisely in that relationship. In November, 
1969, 3.1 per cent of the white and 6.2 per cent of the nonwhite labor force 
were unemployed. This situation represents a slight relative improvement for 
Negroes from that of a year earlier, when the rates for the two groups were 
3.0 and 6.5 per cent, respectively. Nevertheless, the problem of closing the 
unemplo)'ment gap between whites and Negroes has thus far proven in- 
tractable. The most serious problem has been and remains the very high level 
of unemployment among Negro teenagers, for whom unemployment rates 
have regularly been in the range of 20 to 30 per cent in recent years. 

Prospects for Improvement in the Job Situation 

The improvements in the Negro job situation represented by the shifts 
in the Negro occupational distribution are to a considerable extent the result 
of the upgrading of Negroes who were previously in jobs which underutilized 
their educational and skill level. This upgrading has been relatively easy 
because it could be accomplished by moving Negroes into higher level jobs 
for which they were already qualified by educational background and skill. 
This process will undoubtedly continue to take place in the future. 

Whites and Negroes with similar educational backgrounds, though not 
necessarily with similar experience or training, still have strikingly different 
occupational distributions. These distributions are shown in Table 2 for 
workers whose highest year of schooling completed is the fourth year of high 
school and for workers who have completed one or more years of college. 
Even allowing for differences in the quality of education received and for 
differences in experience and skill training, the figures suggest that room exists 
for additional occupational upgrading of the Negro labor force. 

Nevertheless, this source of occupational upgrading will gradually dis- 
appear, and the question is raised of whether recent rates of progress can be 
maintained. The probable answer is that increased efforts will be required to 
continue progress at the same rate. 

Estimates have been made of the speed at which Negroes will approach 
the occupational status of whites if progress continues at the rate of recent 
years.^ The estimates are made for the year 1985, when Negro employment 
is expected to represent 12 per cent of the total. The estimates indicate that 
Negroes would have : 

10.6 per cent of professional and technical jobs, 
8.4 per cent of clerical jobs, 
6.0 per cent of sales jobs, and 
8.8 per cent of skilled craftsmen jobs. 

Negroes would still be heavily overrepresented in the categories in which 
they now predominate, in that they would comprise about 24 per cent of all 
nonfarm laborers, 38 per cent of private household workers, and nearly 25 
per cent of farm laborers. 

Policies for Improved Employment Opportunities 

The progress that has been made thus far toward equality of employment 
opportunity has in at least two respects been possible because of particularly 
favorable circumstances for improvement. One is the gap that existed be- 
tween the jobs many Negroes were engaged in and the jobs for which they 
were qualified. As has been already indicated, this source of improvement will 
gradually disappear. The other is the high level of economic activity in the 
United States of the past half dozen years. Further progress will be dependent 
upon maintaining a full emplo)'ment economy. 

In addition, larger and more effective private and public policies will need 
to be implemented if we are to approach the goal of full emplo)Tnent equality 
at an acceptable rate of speed. 

Education. The link between educational attainment and occupational 
achievement is clear. The typical professional and technical job requires a 
college degree or at least some education at the college level. A high school 
' Eckstein, op. cit., pp. 5-7. 

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diploma is the norm for managerial, clerical, sales, and skilled craftsmen jobs. 
Conservative projections of trends since 1948 indicate that the typical semi- 
skilled operative and service job will be held by a high school graduate in 
1985 (see Table 3). 

Eckstein has estimated that to maintain recent rates of occupational 
progress through 1985, 68 per cent of the nonwhite labor force needs to be 
high school graduates and 15 per cent should be college graduates. To reach 
occupational status comparable to that of whites by 1985, the comparable 
figures should be 75 per cent and 17 per cent, respectively.* As of 1968, less 
than 43 per cent of the nonwhite labor force were high school graduates, and 
less than 7 per cent had completed college.^ Although the level of educational 
attainment among Negroes has been increasing rapidly, a large gap will exist 
between what is required and what is attained unless the rate of college 
attendance is increased substantially and the rate of high school completion 
among Negroes is increased very substantially. At the current rate of progress, 
Negroes will not have attained the required educational levels as a group until 
the end of this century.® 

The implications of this analysis for educational policy are considered in 
detail in another paper (Atkin). Suffice it to say that substantially greater 
investments in education will be required by government, Negro students, 
and their families. In the past the return on investment in education has been 
much lower for Negroes than for whites, and the result was that the incentive 
for educational attainment was lacking. But this situation is changing as em- 
ployment discrimination against Negroes declines, and it can be anticipated 
that the returns to Negroes on educational investment will rise rapidly. 

Hiring Policies and Manpower Utilization. It is apparent that if improve- 
ment of the occupational status of Negroes waits entirely on the upgrading of 
the educational level of the Negro work force, the pace of advancement will be 
unacceptably slow. To some extent the link that has developed between edu- 
cational and occupational attainment will have to be relaxed. The high school 
diploma has become the necessary entry qualification for an ever-increasing 
number of jobs, many of them jobs that were once performed and still are 
performed by workers with lesser levels of education. To some extent a re- 
duction in educational requirements for some jobs will come about through 
the force of developing trends. If full emplo^Tnent is maintained consistently, 
the resulting tight labor markets will result in shortages of labor unless entry 
requirements are relaxed. In addition, however, special efforts need to be 
made by governments, companies, and unions to open occupational doors to 
Negroes who do not meet the usual formal job requirements. In the white- 

* Ibid., p. 8. 

^ U.S. Department of Labor, Statistics on Manpower: A Supplement to the Man- 
power Report of the President (March, 1969), pp. 37-38. 
' Eckstein, op. cit., pp. 9-10. 

MARCH, 1967 

Occupational group 


, 1967 





White-collar workers: 

Professional and technical 




Managers, officials, and proprietors 












Blue-collar workers: 

Craftsmen and foremen 








Nonfarm laborers 




Service workers: 

Private household 








Farm workers: 

Farmers and farm managers 




Farm laborers and foremen 




Total — all occupational groups 




Sources: Data for 1967 are from U.S. Department of Labor, Statistics on Manpower: A 
Supplement to the Manpower Report of the President (March, 1969), pp. 41-42. Figures for 1985 
are projections of trends since 1948 and are found in Otto Eckstein, Education, Employment, and 
Negro Equality (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Labor, Seminar on Manpower Policy and 
Program, October, 1968), p. 8. 

collar occupations, affirmative actions by employers, along with equality of 
educational opportunity, are the key elements. Perhaps more importantly, 
in the case of blue-collar jobs, on which the largest number of Negroes are 
no\v emplo)ed, unions will bear a major responsibility. As one example, it 
may be necessary for unions and union members to make concessions on such 
matters as probationary periods, seniority, and entry requirements to training 
programs in order for meaningful progress to be made. 

Many examples of efTorts in these directions already exist. In the auto 
industry, and particularly Ford Motor Company, standard job application 
procedures and reading and arithmetic tests have been abandoned. Addi- 
tionally applicants are not disqualified either for lack of experience or the 
existence of police records. The program, which has full union support, also 
includes intensive efTorts to recruit in the ghetto. The Joint Council of 
Teamsters in Los Angeles, with the help of a Department of Labor grant, has 
instituted its Transportation Opportunities Program (TOP), which trains and 
creates employment for disadvantaged residents of Los Angeles. Men are 
trained as truck drivers, dock workers, warehousemen, bus drivers, hostlers, 
heavy duty servicemen, brake and front-end alignment men, diagnostic land 
and tune-up specialists, tire repairmen, and service station operators. The 
training is available to the unemployed, the underemployed, and Teamster 

members who wish to upgrade their skills. The AFL-CIO has set up a non- 
profit organization called the Human Resources Development Institute to 
attempt to mobilize the resources of labor in recruiting, training, employing, 
and upgrading the hard-core unemployed and the underemployed/ 

These types of efforts, while far from typical or universal, reflect a new 
readiness to depart from the status quo in some sectors of industry and labor. 
That there is resistance to opening the gates of occupational opportunity is 
revealed by the fact that since 1964 the Federal Equal Employment Oppor- 
tunity Commission has received over 40,000 charges of discrimination in 
violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and has found discrimination in 
60 per cent of them. The Commission itself is attempting to encourage the 
adoption of affirmative action programs, particularly in industry. Its most 
recent activity in this direction was a three-day workshop for 40 executives 
of national trade associations in which it attempted to encourage association 
activities in the areas of recruitment, hiring, testing, and upgrading of 
minority group persons. 

Finally, members of minority group communities have taken increased 
responsibility and demanded and obtained increased control over their own 
progress. This trend has been particularly evident in the areas of education 
and Negro entrepreneurship. Black caucuses in labor unions have also de- 
veloped, and if the Nixon manpower proposals embodied in the Manpower 
Training Act of 1969 become law, the result will probably be more com- 
munity responsibility for federal manpower programs. These developments 
have frequently resulted in serious conflict and confrontation, but they may 
also eventually result in progress in the employment area that would not 
otherwise occur. 

Federal Manpower Programs. In fiscal year 1970 the federal govern- 
ment is spending about 1 .6 billion dollars on a variety of manpower programs 
designed primarily to give training, work experience, or related supportive 
services to unemployed or underemployed persons in an effort to prepare them 
for entry into jobs. The $1.6 billion figure, which compares with the $1.4 
billion allocated for manpower programs in fiscal year 1969, is expected to 
provide manpower services for slightly over one million workers.* The main 
programs in terms of number of persons served and number of dollars spent 
include the Job Opportunities in the Business Sector (JOBS) program, the 
Concentrated Employment Program (CEP), the institutional and on-the-job 
Manpower Development and Training Act (MDTA) programs, the Neigh- 

' Details on these and other programs can be found in "Business, Labor, and 
Jobs in the Ghetto," Issues in Industrial Society, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Ithaca: New York 
State School of Industrial and Labor Relations, 1969), pp. 3-18. 

* Because an unknown number of persons receive services from more than one 
manpower program, the number of different persons who will be beneficiaries will be 
less than the one million figure indicated, perhaps by a considerable margin. 

borhood Youth Corps, the Job Corps, and the Work Incentive Program 

For the most part, these programs can be viewed as remedial ; that is, they 
are designed to pick up people for whom the regular educational and training 
institutions were unsuccessful in preparing them for productive contributions 
to the economy. Most of the enrollees in these programs are disadvantaged; 
that is, they are members of poverty households and have other characteristics, 
such as low levels of education, that put them at a serious disadvantage in 
the competition for jobs. Disproportionately large numbers of the recipients 
of the manpower services provided by these programs are Negroes. In 1968, 
Negroes comprised 45 per cent of the institutional and 33 per cent of the 
on-the-job MDTA trainees, over 40 per cent of the Neighborhood Youth 
Corps, 81 per cent of those in the Concentrated Employment Program, 74 
per cent of those in the relatively small New Careers program, and a large 
majority of trainees in the JOBS program of the National Alliance of 

Manpower programs are aimed primarily at removing persons from the 
ranks of the unemployed and from sub-marginal, low-paying jobs. To the 
extent that the programs are successful, they prepare workers for entry-level 
jobs. They do not make a large contribution, although there are exceptions, 
to moving people to the higher levels of the occupational hierarchy. They are 
nevertheless important, and the Nixon Administration is departing from past 
practice by making funds available in 1970 for the training costs of upgrading 
persons who are already on the job, particularly persons who are newly placed 
in employment. The ultimate goal of the shift in policy, according to Arnold 
Wever, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Manpower, is "not just to get jobs 
at the lower rung of the ladder, but to provide institutions and incentives so 
that there will be a normal distribution of opportunities throughout the entire 
occupational range." In addition, the shift to more emphasis on upgrading 
anticipates that as the disadvantaged move up the job ladder they will vacate 
entry-level jobs and thereby clear the way for other disadvantaged people to 
obtain a start in the job market. In part, the shift has grown out of the fear 
that entry-level jobs will become clogged with the newly-employed disad- 
vantaged, and inadequate numbers of job slots will be available for new 
graduates of manpower programs. 

The Nixon Administration has also reallocated manpower funds, which 
has resulted in a two-and-one-half-fold increase in the JOBS program and 
reductions in the size of the Neighborhood Youth Corps and the Job Corps. 
The expansion of the JOBS program reflects the intention of the Administra- 
tion to place increased reliance on the private business sector to provide train- 
ing and jobs for the disadvantaged. The decrease in resources devoted to the 
Job Corps is the result of the Secretary of Labor's decision to close 59 of the 


existing 109 Job Corps Centers on July 1, 1969, The Job Coi-ps is a very 
expensive program and has been afflicted with high rates of dropout. The 
Labor Department has indicated that it eventually plans to replace some of 
the Job Corps Centers with 30 new inner-city and near-city training centers in 
which the training emphasis will be shifted from conservation work to in- 
dustrial occupations and job placement. 

The effectiveness of manpower programs has suffered from its fraction- 
alized approach to manpower problems arising from multiple funding and 
administrative agencies and a weak apparatus for coordinating activities. The 
result has sometimes been duplication of services and a poor distribution of 
activity with respect to priority objectives. In the Administration's proposed 
Manpower Training Act of 1969, the problem of coordination would be 
met by a decentralization of the responsibility for developing manpower pro- 
grams to states and local areas and a scrapping of the present multitude of 
separate, categorical programs. 

Negroes in the Construction Trades. Special mention needs to be made 
of the increasingly intensive demands by coalitions of Negro and other groups 
for more rapid progress in increasing the employment of blacks in the build- 
ing trades. Disputes have occurred in several major cities, some of which 
involved picketing of construction sites in an effort to enforce demands on 
contractors and unions to admit more blacks to the various trades and to 
make stronger efforts to include blacks in apprenticeship and other training 

Efforts to settle the disputes have taken several forms. Perhaps the most 
controversial settlement resulted in the "Philadelphia Plan," which was put 
in force by executive order using the government's contract compliance au- 
thority. Under this plan bidders on federally-assisted construction work are 
required to submit affirmative action plans setting forth specific goals for 
the utilization of minority employees. The plan requires minority employment 
in six skilled crafts in Philadelphia to reach levels of about 20 to 25 per cent 
within four years. 

The Comptroller General of the United States has taken the position 
that the plan is illegal under the 1964 Civil Rights Act because it requires 
government contractors to take race into consideration in their hiring. He has 
also said that he will not approve expenditures of federal funds for contracts 
made under the plan. The AFL-CIO Building Trades Department has ex- 
pressed unalterable opposition to the plan and labeled it an unlawful quota 

Nevertheless, the Labor Department has issued an order implementing 
the Philadelphia Plan and has begun analysis of minority employment in the 
building trades in other cities with a view toward possible establishment of 
similar plans. This development is of particular interest because it repre- 


sents one of the strongest governmental efforts to bring about minorit)' prog- 
ress in emplo)Tnent through contract compliance. It is also of interest be- 
cause it was attempted at a time when other governmental policies were 
producing high interest rates and a resulting depression in the contract con- 
struction industry. Thus, its efforts to expand minority emplo)-ment by way 
of contract compliance is at least partially offset by policies which restrict 
the job opportunities available. 

The Kerner Commission Recommendations 

The central recommendation of the Kerner Commission for meeting the 
job needs of the unemployed and the underemployed was for a program that 
would create one million new jobs in the public sector and one million new 
jobs in the private sector in three years. The Commission felt that new jobs 
in the public sector could be provided quickly, particularly at the local level, 
where there are "Vast unmet needs in education, health, recreation, public 
safety, sanitation, and other important municipal services." For additional 
jobs in the private sector for the hard-core unemployed, the Commission 
recommended that private enterprise be subsidized in "a massive additional 
spur to job development" to cover the extra costs of supportive services and 
training necessary for steady emplo)Tnent. 

Other "basic strategies" proposed by the Commission included: consoli- 
dation by function of existing programs aimed at recruiting, training, and 
job development; more emphasis on the problem of motivating the hard- 
core unemployed; removal by both public agencies and private employers 
of artificial barriers to employment and promotion; and validation of testing 
procedures or replacement of testing with work samples or actual job tr)Outs. 

Concerning the coordination of the many manpower programs, the Com- 
mission recommended that every cit)' establish a comprehensive manpower 
recruitment and service agency with authority to direct the coordination of 
all manpower programs in the locality, including those of the Federal-State 
Employment Service, the communit)- action agencies, and other local groups. 
Relative to job development and placement in private industry^, the Com- 
mission indicated that "it may be helpful now to create a federally-chartered 
corporation with authority to undertake the coordination of the private 
sector job program." For financing the new jobs called for in the private 
sector, increases from the $1,000 per year to at least $3,500 in the direct- 
reimbursement system in use for on-the-job training was recommended, as 
well as adoption of a tax credit system for employers expanding their em- 
plo)'ment of the hard-core unemployed. 

Taking first the recommendation for job creation in the private sector, 
the principles suggested by the Kerner Commission have been made opera- 
tive in the JOBS program of the National Alliance of Businessmen. The 


Alliance coordinates the work of obtaining commitments from private firms 
to hire the disadvantaged and provides assistance to the firm in contracting 
with the Labor Department for training subsidies. The subsidies provided 
can be as high as $3,500 per trainee per year, the figure recommended by 
the Commission. The size of the program, however, falls short of the Com- 
mission suggestion of one million jobs in three years. At the end of the first 
year on June 30, 1969, somewhat over 100,000 persons were in training or 
employment under the program. The second-year goal is 230,000, and the 
three-year total expected to be trained and employed under the program 
is 614,000. The program has been expanded from the original 50 large cities 
to include the entire United States, although the National Alliance's volun- 
tary (nonsubsidized) training efforts will be confined to 125 metropolitan 
areas. For the first time in 1970, federal funds will be available for pro- 
grams of upgrading the disadvantaged already on the job. 

The JOBS program has had considerable success in mobilizing business 
firms to increase their training and hiring of Negroes and other disadvan- 
taged workers. The main question about the program is whether new jobs 
are being created for the disadvantaged, which was the Kerner Commission 
recommendation; or whether existing jobs are more frequently being filled 
by the disadvantaged. It is probably more the latter than the former. 

The Kerner Commission recommendation for the creation of one million 
new jobs for the hard-core unemployed in the public sector has gone largely 
unrealized. Two small programs. New Careers and Operation Mainstream, 
are the only federal programs of public employment aimed particularly at 
employing the unemployed and disadvantaged. The two programs together 
provide employment opportunities for less than 17,000 people. 

The cost of the Kerner Commission proposals for the creation of jobs in 
the public sector would alone have exceeded the total amounts being spent 
at the time on all existing manpower programs. W. Willard Wirtz, Secretary 
of Labor at the time, supported the purposes of the Emergency Employment 
and Training Act of 1968, which would have provided funds for the creation 
of 1.2 million new jobs each in the private and public sectors over a four- 
year period, but objected to the establishment of still additional manpower 
programs and indicated a preference for additional financial support for 
existing programs. 

As some of the earlier discussion has indicated, steps have been taken 
toward solution of the problem of Negro employment in directions suggested 
by the Kerner Commission, including more emphasis on contract compliance, 
improved coordination of existing manpower programs, and reduction of 
artificial barriers in employment and promotion. The "massive" investment 
in programs to meet the needs of the unemployed and underemployed sug- 
gested by the Commission and required to bring about full equality in em- 
ployment, however, has not yet been made. 




The Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders'^ pro- 
posed several methods of improving the education of black children, par- 
ticularly in urban areas. Specific suggestions included such plans as 

increasing aid to school systems that are seeking to eliminate racial iso- 

establishing "magnet schools" to attract children from several sections 
of the community, 

providing supplemental education centers with specialized facilities to 
help )oungsters for a portion of the school day, 

building educational parks to cluster existing schools, 

expanding the teacher corps programs in ghetto areas, 

providing year-round education for disadvantaged students, 

bringing children to school at an earlier age than state law convention- 
ally requires, 

providing incentives for highly qualified teachers to teach in ghetto areas, 

reducing size of classes, 

providing intensive concentration on basic verbal skills, 

improving community-school relations by such devices as using local resi- 
dents as teacher aides and tutors, 

improving higher education opportunities, and 

providing more realistic vocational education. 

The recommendations could be categorized within two key strategies: 

First, we must foster racial integration in schools as the long-term priority 
objective, as a matter of social policy. Racial isolation is detrimental, on its 
face, for whites and blacks. 

Second, the elimination of racial isolation is a difficult goal to achie\'e 
in the short term. We must improve education of black children in w^hat- 
ever schools we currently find them. 

The Commission felt compelled to point out that, 

We see no conflict between the integration and quality education strategies we 
espouse. Commitment to the goal of integrated education can neither diminish the 

' (New York: Bantam Books, 1968). 

quality of today's segregated and unequal ghetto schools nor sanction the tragic 
waste of human resources which they entail. 

Far from being in conflict the strategies are complementary. The aim of quality 
education is to compensate for and overcome the environmental handicaps of dis- 
advantaged children. The evidence indicates that integration, in itself, does not 
wholly achieve this purpose.^ 

In the letter inviting me to prepare a paper for this meeting, it was 
stated that, "One gets the feeling . . . that the recommendations (of the 
Commission) have been largely ignored and that the racial situation is 
worsening. If this is the case, why is it happening? What are the obstacles 
to change? Can anything feasible be done to change the situation?" In 
my view, the premise of this Assembly, to the extent that it is reflected by 
these assertions and questions, is accurate. The racial situation does seem 
to be worsening. 

Nevertheless, it is not clear to this participant that an examination of the 
possible obstacles, field by field, necessarily or directly leads to alleviation of 
the problems. As a matter of fact, highly technical analyses of the racial 
difficulties we face in the United States could lead, albeit unintentionally, 
to evasion of the moral responsibilities we face as a nation. 

The Kerner Commission Report is a moral indictment as well as a social 
analysis. While the analysis must continue, it must supplement, and not 
supplant, the moral fervor of our efforts to eliminate racism and its eflfects. 
Value questions that underlie our social policy formulations must not be 
submerged entirely beneath dispassionate inquiry into our problems. Rather, 
reaffirmations of national purpose and value commitments must move apace 
with scholarly analysis. 

Furthermore, intensive examination of a single field ■ — such as education, 
or employment, or housing, or welfare — easily leads reasonable people to 
think that progress is virtually impossible to attain because racial problems 
are so pervasive in the society. An individual interested in employTnent looks 
at the educational and housing scenes, and he begins to wonder if the im- 
provement of employment opportunities alone will alleviate the problem 
appreciably. A man studying our welfare policies can easily fall into the 
position of fatalistic acceptance of inadequacies in the present system because 
welfare problems, of course, have manifestations in housing, employment, 
education, and administration of justice. And the educationist may be quite 
tempted to say that the schools can do little indeed in the absence of rather 
wholesale changes in other elements of the society. 

In the field of education, there exists abundant rationale supporting argu- 
ments for minimal change, both with respect to compensatoiy education and 
also with respect to integration. Compensator)' education programs of one kind 

' Ibid., p. 439. 


and another, from the Banneker Project in St. Louis, to the Higher Horizons 
Program in New York City, to the Madison Area Project in Syracuse, have all 
demonstrated limited ability to improve the achievement levels of black chil- 
dren, as the U. S. Commission on Civil Rights report. Racial Isolation in the 
Public Schools,^ has already indicated. Compensatory education programs at 
the preschool level, on the other hand, have succeeded in eflfecting sharp im- 
provements in achievement; but the studies so far reveal that the initial 
gains are soon lost, not only in situations wherein black children later attend 
racially isolated classes, but also in schools where they attend integrated classes. 
Further, compensatory education programs are costly. The "successful" pre- 
school programs cost between $1,000 and $1,500 per child per year. We 
currently spend, nationally, an average of $450 per child per )ear. An in- 
evitable question arises: If we are willing to increase our investment dramati- 
cally in social programs — the kind of additional investment represented by a 
doubling or tripling of our allotments for education — shouldn't we consider 
methods of spending these monies alternative to those in the educational sys- 
tem alone? Income guarantees, for example. Or creating new jobs. 

But a prior question is unavoidable if we focus major effort on compensa- 
tor)' programs. If we are committed to improving the achievement level of 
black children, primarily in black communities, can we ever create a political 
atmosphere in which whites will be willing to appropriate two and three times 
as much money for the education of black children as for their own? Such 
a possibility seems highly unlikely, however much certain elements of our 
population may want to preserve a segregated pattern. It is doubtful whether 
they will allow such a disparate investment. Compensatory education alone 
doesn't seem to hold much promise for a large-scale solution to improvement 
of black education, given the political realities of present-day America. 

Yet the evidence for improvement of achievement by integrating schools 
is not very encouraging either, mainly because many plans for desegregation 
of schools do not eliminate segregation in classes. In many cases, even \vhen 
the racial composition of the entire school is mixed, examination reveals that 
the blacks by and large are in separate tracks. In such situations, the evidence 
indicates that their achievement is no different from what it would be if they 
attended separate schools. 

Our research seems to indicate that integration of classes seems to be the 
most effective educational method for improving achievement of black chil- 
dren. Though the evidence of this point isn't overwhelming, and some recent 
studies raise disturbing questions, such a plan is likely to be successful for 
blacks while preserving high achievement for whites. A few medium-sized 
cities, such as Champaign, Illinois, and Syracuse, New York, have experi- 

' Superintendent of Documents (Washington, D.G.: U.S. Government Printing 
Office), 1967. 

mented with such a method of eliminating racial isolation. Results so far seem 

But in larger cities, major innovative political arrangements are required 
to achieve racial integration at the level of the individual class. Open enroll- 
ment, a system wherein people can choose the school they wish to go to, doesn't 
seem to work, possibly because of the large proportion of Negro children in 
central city school systems. Cooperative arrangements between urban and 
suburban schools seem promising, but such systems have not been tried on an 
appreciable scale because of the political realignments that are required. 

This observer, then, doubts that large-scale improvements of educational 
achievement are possible through compensatory education programs alone, 
and tends therefore to reject that particular recommendation of the Kerner 
Commission Report as feasible national policy. Perhaps one obstacle to the 
adoption of this particular recommendation results from similar skepticism 
by those individuals who are uncertain about long-term benefits and who also 
question the likelihood of such disproportionate financial support for black 
schools. Even if we were willing to spend three times as much for the educa- 
tion of black children as for white children, compensatory programs seem to 
have practically no effect after preschool ; and even when applied at the pre- 
school level, the benefits seem to wash out in ordinary programs of schooling. 
These statements are based on the evidence at hand about results of com- 
pensatory education programs. These programs have usually been carried 
out without major attention to other types of social change, or even to per- 
vasive change at all levels of schooling. If coordinated programs to improve 
the socioeconomic levels in ghetto areas were combined with compensatory 
education efforts, the results might be quite different. I suspect they would be. 
It seems highly unlikely that we shall redistribute educational resources to 
compensate dramatically for the effects of past societal depravations. At the 
same time, it is not quite so unlikely that we may be willing to allocate a 
greater share of our national investment in human resources to improvement 
of educational programs. The most acceptable plans for the improvement of 
education of black children, those with highest possibility of acceptance by 
the public, must include major attention to improvement of education for 
whites as well. This fact, plus persuasive moral considerations, seems to argue 
for desegregation, for the elimination of racial isolation, as the most effective 
method of eliminating educational disparities between the races. 

It has become clear that a large segment of our population — white, 
ignored, and angry — is disturbed increasingly by what they see as major 
attempts to redress imbalances in favor of blacks, amidst a climate in which 
blacks, as well as some whites, are becoming ever more strident in their de- 
mands. Stridency breeds antagonism. Angry whites are uniting in opposition 
to improvement of social programs that focus exclusively on blacks. 

If our educational programs for whites were today all that they should 
be, perhaps there would be less objection to disproportionate allocation of re- 
sources for the improvement of black education. But of course our educational 
system must be improved for both races. If in our determinations of social 
policy, we demonstrate an appropriate (and large) degree of concern for 
whites, then we will also have greater success with new programs that may 
focus primarily on blacks. 

This background argues for total examination of the educational system; 
it argues for the formulation of general educational goals for all. If whites 
begin to see how the educational system is being changed to meet the needs of 
their own children, they may be quite willing to work for improvement of 
black education in the process, and they may even be willing to invest in 
programs that attempt to redress past inequities. 

I shall use the remainder of my remarks to highlight a somewhat dif- 
ferent potentially divisive element in our attention to the improvement of ed- 
ucation for black children. It is appealing to focus on schools in righting social 
wrongs. Schooling is a traditional means by which we have attempted to 
translate social policy into actual improvement of the quality of life. But there 
is a strong temptation to think that more schooling, as well as more efficient 
schooling, can eliminate some of the variability between blacks and whites in 
educational achievement. If this assumption is accepted without examination, 
it is seductive to conclude that we need to increase the dominion of formal 
schooling over the lives of black children. We may put them in schools during 
the summer, on Saturdays, or in the late afternoons. And to the extent that 
we move directly to improve achievement, and consequently present the dis- 
advantaged child with highly structured, elaborately sequenced programs to 
improve competencies in subjects such as reading and mathematics, we risk 
highlighting a particularly formal, tightly programmed type of education that 
could well accent a mechanical approach to learning which children may 
eventually see as dehumanizing and insufficiently personal. 

While some social policy formulators are advocating rigorous teaching 
methods in the formal skills for disadvantaged children, they are tending to 
enroll their owoi youngsters in schools that are more open, more permissive, 
and that tend to give increasing emphasis to the arts and the humanities. 
Many observers are beginning to view schooling in the United States as ex- 
cessively preordered and sequenced. They see the growth of a factory model 
for education in the United States, in which "productivity" is analyzed in 
terms of prespecified changes in human behavior. Americans tend to assume 
that the development of an educated person is something like the development 
of a rocket or an automobile. We indicate in perfoiTnance terms what is ex- 
pected as a "terminal objective." Then we develop sophisticated, well-engi- 
neered approaches to assure efficient production. 

Many middle-class parents are beginning to demand a more expressive 
element in the education of their children. And the students are demanding 
it themselves. There is considerably more focus these days on the quality of 
our lives and on the aesthetic and value dimensions of our existence. These 
pressures are just beginning to build up; they may have a strong influence on 
schools during the early 1970's. Art programs probably will be more promi- 
nent in our schools during the coming years; the humanities will be stressed; 
environmental quality policy questions will begin to be reflected more in 
secondary as well as elementary school programs. But if present trends con- 
tinue, these developments in middle-class schools will be strongly at variance 
with present trends in education of black children to be ever more disciplined, 
ever more focused on discrete achievement questions in subjects such as read- 
ing, writing, and arithmetic. We may have to face a major ideological ques- 
tion: Do we want a system that emphasizes one set of goals for one race 
while espousing a different set for another? 

It is possible that black children subjected to heavy doses of formal skill 
preparation and for longer hours will begin to view schooling in the same 
repressive sense that some of our middle-class children have begun to see it 
in recent years at the college and high school levels. 

To implement the spirit of the Kemer Commission recommendations, we 
might do well to introduce greater diversity in our approaches to education 
and also in the variety of personnel involved in work with young people, both 
in the school and out. It is clear that we have not made the progress that is 
desirable in improving race relations. We are not even sure what is possible. 
We need to try new programs, instead of solely riveting resources on one or 
two educational schemes that seem appealing. 

Some innovations will be developed within the profession, but we surely 
need fresh insights from a variety of groups. Professionals in the schools are 
beginning to learn to work with the nonprofessionals. We are learning, in 
many fields, that a narrow, protectionist view of existing practice may be un- 
desirably conservative. When we reach the day when school administrators 
and teachers work as comfortably with all their constituencies as they presently 
work with the PTA, then we shall begin to take steps that improve the edu- 
cation of all children : black and white. If we focus our programs for educa- 
tional improvement on both races, we may stand the best chance of improving 
it for either race. 



Welfare and Civil Disorder 

The welfare system — public assistance — seems not a prime cause of 
riots. Welfare was lowest on a list of grievances from a Commission survey 
of twenty riot cities. Another study of forty-nine cities indicated that level 
of welfare was not correlated with occurrence of violence. Police practices, 
jobs, and housing are more often cited by both ghetto residents and experts 
as "causes." 

Yet the black ghetto way of life is centrally supported by welfare, par- 
ticularly ADC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children). The Kemer 
Commission included the welfare system in their analysis because the cycle of 
poverty, despair, and dependency cannot be broken up without an adequate 
and rational welfare system. An effective welfare system is not by itself suffi- 
cient, but it is no doubt a necessary' condition for achieving the "integration" 
asked by the Commission — or even for achieving racial peace. 

Among welfare programs, only ADC will be discussed here. ADC is but 
one- third of all United States assistance costs; however, ADC is most im- 
portant to ghetto families, it is growing most rapidly, and it is most 

Basic questions about ADC were raised by the Commission. Can ADC 
or some other family income program become an effective means for support- 
ing parents without income to adequately rear their children? Can it be a 
constructive experience for its recipients rather than destructive? Can it 
contribute to the "integration" policy recommended by the Commission? 

Welfare Recommendations 

Three welfare recommendations were made by the Commission : R&D, 
as a "first strategy"; overhaul, as the "most important"; and security, as a 
"longer-range goal." 

The Commission recommended first, research and experiment to learn 
how income maintenance programs affect families. Social insurance and 
assistance involve $60 billion per year, yet money for "research and develop- 
ment" in these programs is not a tenth of 1 per cent of their cost. 

The overhaul asked by the Commission was a stopgap but still crucial 
effort to eliminate the worst inequities, and to make ADC more adequate and 

The longer-range strategy of the Commission was a national income floor at 
an adequate level for those who work for low pay as well as those without 

ADC in Illinois: An Overview 

Total costs of ADC in Illinois have grown by one-half during the two years 
since the Kerner study, and now exceed a quarter of a billion dollars per 
year. The share of costs paid by the state has increased by two-thirds in the 
same two years. It appears that Illinois will be paying about $160 million of 
a total cost of $300 million for ADC in fiscal year 1970. 

In numbers of people receiving aid, ADC has grown about one-third 
during the same two years, from 280,000 to 370,000. One Illinois child in 
every fifteen lives in an ADC family. 

ADC in Illinois, as elsewhere, is disproportionately black and urban; 10 
per cent of all Illinois citizens are black — but 70 per cent of its 370,000 
citizens on ADC are black. Cook County with 50 per cent of the state's popu- 
lation has 70 per cent of the ADC population. 

ADC families, of course, represent a concentration of problems in addition 
to poverty. Nine of each ten ADC families in Illinois are headed by a woman, 
with no father in the home. His absence is usually due to divorce or desertion. 
ADC mothers have less than average experience with emplo)-ment and formal 

ADC in Illinois is administered with other federally-aided programs by 
some four and one-half thousand employees of the Department of Public 
Aid, in county and district offices. The cost of administration is about 15 
per cent of the cost of direct aid payments. Since 1962, states have been 
required to plan for social services in ADC, as well as legal determination of 
eligibility. Illinois has made such plans, but a numbei of factors militate 
against effective services by ADC workers. 

Continued controversy over the ADC program is easy to understand. To 
the legislator it represents spiraling costs for an unpopular program — the 
last straw for an overburdened state budget. To the taxpayer, ADC seems 
an endless payout with no visible benefits and even seems to some a "subsidy 
of immorality." To the ADC mother, it represents existence but litde else. 
She typically lives in a "project" or other low-cost area where all community 
services — schools, police protection, stores, sanitation, social welfare, and 
recreation — are poor or nonexistent. Her experience with ADC is like her 
experience with schools, police, and merchants. 

In the following analysis, ADC is viewed as objectively as possible, in the 
teiTns laid down by the Kerner Commission Report. 


ADC in Illinois in Relation to Commission Recommendations 

Illinois is within striking distance of the "overhaul" or "most urgent" 
recommendations of the Commission. At the same time, a new ADC crisis 
appears likely. Therefore, we believe that attention should be directed to 
President Nixon's Family Assistance Plan and other proposals for a national 
program of family income maintenance. These observations are the opinion 
of the authors based on the factual review in the following pages. More 
specifically our conclusions are : 

1. A First Strategy — Research and Experiment. A state appropriation of 
$3,300,000 for research in welfare and human resources has been made. New 
programs will be tested in selected areas, and also more basic research will be 
supported. If properly evaluated, this program would put Illinois ahead of 
most states in welfare research and development. Model Cities programs in 
Illinois offer another framework for experiment, but so far Model Cities 
planning has been limited to coordination of existing programs and some use 
of service centers and indigenous workers — the "integrated programs" of 
adequate income and services as recommended by the Commission are said to 
be too expensive. 

2. Most Urgent ■ — • Overhaul. Illinois, like most northern industrial states 
and California, is far ahead of southeastern states and already approaches the 
"overhaul" recommendations. Many detailed recommendations, to make 
ADC more adequate and less degrading to recipients, are reviewed below. 
Specific actions which would bring Illinois fully to the recommended levels are 
listed on pages 40-41. 

3. A Longer-Range Strategy — National Income Security. Several factors 
appear to make a new ADC crisis likely in Illinois. Political and fiscal reality 
therefore suggest that it is time to consider a national income maintenance 
program. Impact of any proposed plan for Illinois should be examined, we 
believe, on three key questions. 

a. Will the plan provide relief to the state budget? 

b. Will administrative complexity be reduced? 

c. Will the needs of the most deprived families in Illinois be better 

This review (pages 34 to 40) indicates that the Administration Welfare 
Bill presently before Congress does not offer substantial benefits for Illinois in 
terms of the state budget or in terms of administration. Also, there is a basic 
question about level of adequacy for deprived families. Since families would 
still be maintained below the poverty level, parents would not be much helped 
in their own efforts to break out of the cycle of poverty and frustration so 
graphically described by the Commission. 

"A First Strategy" — Research and Experiment. Governor Ogilvie's 
budget includes $3,300,000 for research and demonstration in state human 


resources programs. Plans being developed in the Bureau of the Budget call 
for testing of decentralized comprehensive administration of state human 
services, for testing of separation of service from eligibility determination, for 
development of adequate information systems, and for support of basic re- 
search. An institute would be set up, independent of operating departments 
at the state level, to administer these studies and experiments. 

The Commission called for urban demonstrations of integrated programs 
of aid and job training, under the Model Cities umbrella. None are planned 
in Illinois — field experiments in pa)-ment of adequate income, combined 
with adequate services for education and job training, exist in Gar\- and 

Model Cities planning in Illinois includes, as far as we can determine. 
"outposts" for deliver)' of services to poor areas; better information exchange 
among public aid and other programs; and the use of welfare aides recruited 
among residents of Model Cities areas. These ideas are not new, but neither 
are they costly. A representative of Model Cities in the Chicago regional 
office said that the four Model Cities directors in Illinois believe that im- 
proved welfare requires more money through legislative action and so is 
beyond their scope of planning. 

Overhaul of the Existing Categorical System. The Commission asked for 
a national minimum income standard for individuals and families enrolled 
in ADC to be effective in all states, and went on to recommend that the 
standard be at least as high as the poverty line defined by the Social Security 
Administration. That poverty line \vas $3,553 in 1968 and ^vould be some- 
what higher now. 

The Illinois maximum budget standard for a family of four is presently 
$3,339 per year, between 5 and 10 per cent under the poverty line. If current 
earned income of about $2 million per month is added to total assistance 
pa)-ments, it is indicated that the topical ADC family of four in Illinois dees 
have $3,100 to $3,300 per year to live on. 

The table below shows that assistance per person has increased one quarter 
in the past two years, so that Illinois more nearly approaches the Commission 
recommendations than it did two years ago. 

The poverty line budget is based on the assumption that parents are good 
financial managers, and that both business and community facilities are 
adequate so that they can do a good job of rearing children ^vith minimal 

Since these assumptions are known to be false for most ADC families, 
many groups have argued that the poverty line is not an adequate le\el of 
income to permit families to break out of the "prison of povert)'." 

Recognizing that state and local governments have more restricted tax 
bases than the federal government, find it more difficult to respond to ad- 


1967-69 CHANGE 

(Includes ADC-UP; includes medical payments) 


June, 1967 

June, 1969 


Illinois budget standard — ■ 
family of four 

Actual cases 
Assistance per case 
Assistance per person 

S 3,168.00 






$ 3,339.00 








verse economic conditions, and are overburdened by current urban problems 
in particular, the Commission recommended that most welfare costs should 
be paid by the federal government. 

In Illinois at present, the federal government pays one-half the cost of 
ADC. In poorer states, the federal share may be three-fourths or even higher. 

Change in the federal share in Illinois for the two years since the Kerner 
Report has actually been opposite to the Commission recommendations. If the 
third quarter of 1967 is compared with the third quarter of 1969, the federal 
share has declined from 61 per cent to 47 per cent. 

If the Commission recommendation is interpreted as meaning, say, 90 
per cent federal funding, then the estimated state costs for ADC during the 
current fiscal year would be reduced from about $160 million to $30 million. 

The Commission recommended that "The share of costs presently imposed 
on municipal governments should be removed . . ." ; that ADC-UP "be made 
permanent and mandatory on all states"; and that "The new federal defini- 
tion of 'unemployment' be broadened." 

In Illinois, municipal governments do not pay toward ADC costs. 

Illinois, like other leading industrial states, has extended ADC to unem- 
ployed parents. Many other states have not. In Illinois, currently about 4 
per cent of the total state ADC caseload are ADC-U. In the same year that 
the Commission Report was released, ADC-U was authorized on a con- 
tinuing basis by Congress, but it was not made mandatory for each state. 

In 1967, the definition of unemployment in Illinois was: less than forty 
hours OR what is considered normal for the job. The 1969 definition of un- 
employment is: less than thirty- five hours OR what is considered normal 
for the job. 

The present definition of unemployment in Illinois makes it possible for 
families with men not working full time to receive some assistance. There is 
no provision, however, for underemployed families. 


The Commission recommended that earnings retention "should be raised 
substantially to maximize incentive to work." Both public aid policy and the 
actual experience of ADC families in Illinois has moved in the direction 
recommended by the Commission. 

In 1967 in Illinois, the exemption of earnings was the first $25 per month 
plus expenses. In July, 1969, the earnings exemption was raised to the first 
$30 of earned income plus one-third the remainder of gross income. In addi- 
tion, cost of child care may be shown as part of the budgeted needs of the 

The table below shows that both earnings and the amount of earnings 
kept by ADC families have increased substantially during the past year. Com- 
parable figures were not available for 1967. If one can assume that it was the 
increased exemption of earnings which stimulated more ADC parents to go 
to work, then it would appear that the policy recommended by the Com- 
mission has been a success in Illinois. 

The earnings exemption proposed in the Administration Family Assistance 
Plan is $60 per month, plus one-half the remainder. 

Adults in ADC families have little formal education and little work ex- 
perience but in general would prefer to be working for decent wages if possible. 
The Commission noted these basic facts and recommended greater efforts at 
education and job training for adults in ADC. 

In Illinois, there are many activities around basic education and job 
training for ADC adults and the situation is difficult to summarize. 

The table below shows there are over 10,000 adults currently in education 
or job training. About two-thirds of these adults are in literacy training or 
high school or its equivalent, with the other one-third in some form of job 
training. At present, about one ADC adult in each sixteen is involved in such 
activity — less than the proportion two years ago. 

The Illinois Department of Public Aid, under contract with the Depart- 
ment of Public Instruction, finances 13 adult education centers. Basic literacy, 
general educational development, and high school courses are offered, as 
well as job training in clerical, sales, key punch, auto mechanic, and other 
lines of work. There are four centers in Chicago, and nine downstate. 

A work incentive program (WIN) was authorized by the 1967 Amend- 


Item June, 1968 June, 1969 

Number of cases with income 5,700 8,860 

Per cent of cases with income 9.3 11.6 

Total earned income (rounded) $990,000 $1,920,000 
Earned income exempted from budget 

(retained by recipients) $120,000 $ 920,000 



August, 1967 

August, 1 969 

Total number 



Percentage of all ADC adults 



Number attending adult education 




Number in work incentive programs 


Miscellaneous (number in MDTA; 

DVR; night courses, etc.) 



ment to the Social Security Act. The Department of Labor administers WIN 
in coordination with HEW. A variety of services are offered to move aduhs 
and young people from welfare families into employment. In Illinois, WIN is 
effective in Cook County and six other counties. 

In the miscellaneous category, public aid workers make referrals to the 
Illinois State Employinent Service, the Manpower Development and Training 
Office, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, and in addition may ar- 
range for attendance at courses or job training on a case-by-case basis. 

Assessment of progress in ADC and employment is difficult because of 
persistent policy questions which have never been settled. 

First, how can an integrated and coherent effort to\vard education and 
employment be achieved? There is a patchwork of programs which are diffi- 
cult to coordinate. Should these be under the Department of Public Aid or 
some existing or new authority? 

Second, how large an effort is required? The ADC program inherits the 
deficiencies of the educational system, especially for black people, and the 
deficiencies in emplo)Tnent opportunities. An adequate program of education 
and employment would almost replicate the primar)' and secondaiy school 
system and might have to create special emplovinent opportunities for this 
group of adults. 

Third, are there job opportunities in our present economy for people with 
minimal skills and a p>oor educational background? If not, then something 
more than limited training for specific jobs is needed. 

Fourth, there is the basic question of the welfare of ADC children when 
their mothers work. Presumably, the care and training of children is a de- 
manding function in itself. Under what conditions should ADC mothers be 
encouraged to work? 

The Commission saw day care centers as being needed both to permit 
mothers to work and to improve development opportunities for children. 

In Illinois the expenses of day care for reasons of employment, education 
and training of adults, or for other reasons, may be paid as part of the ADC 
budget. In October, 1969, a total of about $400,000 was paid through ADC 

to 5,914 families for such day care. Of this day care, 80 per cent was for 
reasons of employment, and most of the rest was for education and training. 
Comparisons are not possible over the past two-year period, since day care 
expenses were not identified as a special item two years ago. 

Even though day care may be included in ADC budgets, it is used by only 
one family in twelve. Observers agree that there is a severe shortage of 
adequate facilities. The reason seems to be a lack of federal or state leader- 
ship in organizing day care facilities. 

There are several efforts to stimulate the development of day care but 
results are uneven. For example, the new federal Office of Child Development 
has a bureau concerned with policies and standards for day care. As another 
example, in fiscal 1969, the WIN program included several million dollars 
nationally for day care for children of mothers in the WIN program. The 
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has a licensing and con- 
trol responsibility and is assigning a few staff members to the day care area. 
None of these efforts, so far, provide the necessary money or competent 
leadership to establish and staff day care facilities in local areas. 

The Kerner Commission Report states that its members ". . . strongly 
disagree with compelling mothers of small children to work or else lose wel- 
fare support." In Illinois, education, training, or employment is mandatory 
for all adults in ADC families. This includes mothers with children below 
school age if "suitable arrangements have or can be made for such care and 
supervision during the hours of the day that the mother or other person is out 
of the home because of employment, training, or education." Therefore, the 
state's policy does conflict with the Commission recommendation. 

As a reaction to growing ADC rolls Congress had proposed to freeze 
amounts of federal matching funds to the proportion of children receiving 
assistance in different states as of January 1, 1968. However, this freeze was 
first postponed to July 1, 1969, and since then the beginning date has been 
extended indefinitely. The Commission recommended that the freeze be 

The Report also stated that the so-called "man-in-the-house" rule should 
be eliminated. Currently in Illinois, if there is a man in the house and he is 
unemployed or works part time, that family may be eligible for ADC-U, if 
he is the father of at least one of the children. 

The Commission recommended eliminating residence requirements for 
new residents of states because of the resultant restriction on freedom of move- 
ment to follow opportunity, or simply because of personal preference. 

In 1967, Illinois had a residency requirement of one year. In February, 
1968, residence requirement was declared unconstitutional in the U. S. District 
Court of Cook County. 

During the year ending September, 1969, 2,239 ADC cases were opened 


with less than one year of residence. Proportionately more of the new cases 
were downstate than in Cook County. Less than half came from the South. 
Many came from states adjoining Illinois. In addition, there were new resi- 
dents from the West Coast, from Puerto Rico, and from foreign countries. 

No estimate of the impact of this new policy can be made, since data are 
not available on out-migration nor on reasons for moving. 

Concerning eligibility for ADC the Commission recommended that "Ap- 
plicants should be able to establish initial eligibility by personal statements or 
affidavits relating to their financial situation and family composition, subject 
to subsequent review conducted in a manner that protects their dignity, 
privacy, and constitutional rights." In 1969, the Department of HEW re- 
quested all states not using a self-declaration of eligibility to conduct experi- 
ments in such use. 

In Illinois, self-declaration forms for eligibility determination are being 
tested in Winnebago, Williamson, and Vermilion Counties, and in the north- 
em district of Cook Count)'. The objectives are: (1) to reduce the waiting 
time for recipients to get their decision. In the pilot projects, it takes about 
one hour after the applicant comes in for him to get a decision as against 
thirty days in the past. (2) To free public aid workers to give more time for 
service. (3) To minimize the social stigma involved in applying for assistance. 
(4) To reduce the volume of paper work required. 

The results of the pilot projects have not yet been organized and reported. 
It might be noted that the coordinator of one of the projects stated that in his 
county, the project was successful in reducing waiting time for applicants to 
get their decision and in minimizing the stigma of application. However, he 
also stated that in his county, the volume of paperwork was not greatly less, 
and workers did not have substantially more time for service since the forms 
themselves are still complicated and require extensive processing in the office. 
Finally, he stated that in that county, the accuracy of information obtained 
was apparently as good as, or better than, under the present system. 

The Report contained recommendations for "Centers to provide the full 
complement of welfare services ... all welfare, social, rehabilitation, and 
income assistance services," and for the expansion of family planning 

As noted above, the $3,300,000 for research in the Public Aid appropria- 
tion will pay for trials of integrated community-level administration of state 
human services, in selected areas. 

Illinois currently pays for all types of family planning services and devices. 
Public Aid workers are instructed to discuss birth control with all women of 
child-bearing age. In September, 1969, family planning was paid for in 
6,623 families at a total cost of $39,317. In addition, other women attended 
free public health clinics for family planning services. 


The recommendations above have to do with making social services in 
ADC more effective. This subject is important and requires additional 

Many of society's problems are distilled into the ADC program, and ADC 
families need skilled social ser\dces in addition to adequate income. However, 
there are five obvious facts which work against effective sei^-ices in ADC. 

First, the existing work force in Public Aid is barely enough for the de- 
tailed legal accountability demanded of the program. In Illinois, there are 
now four and one-half thousand employees of Public Aid in county and 
district offices for direct administration of federally-aided assistance programs. 
This number represents an increase of only 2 per cent over two years ago, 
when the programs were much smaller. 

Second, the pay and other amenities do not attract enough specially 
qualified and specially trained persons as career opportunities. 

Third, just as money for research and development in Public Aid has been 
lacking, so has money for staff development and training been miniscule. 

Fourth, administrative practices in Public Aid have always been geared to 
detect and penalize illegal pa)Tnents, but not to detect and reward good 

Fifth, Public Aid legislation and policy have dictated a brittle relation- 
ship between worker and recipient which does not lend itself to effective help- 
ing. To date, it has been the exception rather than the rule that Public Aid 
w'orkers become "advocates" of clients rather than "investigators." 

For all these reasons, many observers have concluded that even with an 
improved ADC program it would be better to separate social ser\ices com- 
pletely from the administration of financial assistance. 

Specific actions are needed for Illinois to reach the overhaul recommenda- 
tions of the Commission. The following actions are specific and feasible steps, 
most of them possible at the state level, which would more fully realize these 

1. Increase ADC budget standard to poverty line. Illinois is 5 to 10 per 
cent below the poverty line defined by federal agencies, and the poverty line 
is of questionable adequacy for child-rearing. As an immediate and minimal 
step, budgetary standards might be brought into line with the current po\-erty 
line definition. 

2. Increase federal sharing in the Administration welfare bill. The present 
federal system of sharing in ADC costs has two undesirable effects. The 
sharing formula tends to put a ceiling on payments, especially in poor states. 
Second, the formula forces states like Illinois to bear all of the cost of more 
adequate aid. As presently written, the Administration welfare bill presei-ves 
these features. 

Therefore, in the interest of the state, the congressional delegation from 

Illinois might seek: (1) a higher family income floor in the Administration 
bill and (2) revision of the cost-sharing fomiula to pay in each state a fixed 
per cent of all family assistance costs. 

3. Single state authority for education and job training. A single state 
authority might be designated to have responsibility for manpower develop- 
ment for unemployed and underemployed citizens. 

4. Day care program development. Responsibility and money for develop- 
ment of local day care facilities might be given to some one department. 

5. Adoption of affidavit system. Use of the affidavit system (self-declara- 
tion) appears to make assistance less demeaning to clients. It might be 
adopted after its current trial unless serious problems are uncovered. 

6. Improved social services. Separation of social service from eligibility 
determination appears necessary to achieve effective service. Effectiveness also 
would seem to require definition of career lines, administrative controls, and 
training programs oriented to service. 

A Longer-Range Strategy ^ National Income Security 

The Commission set down three guides which suggest supplements to the 
working poor, a minimum standard offering hope, and simplified eligibility 
based on need alone. They read as follows : 

To provide for those who can work or who do work, any necessary supplements in 
such a way as to develop incentives for fuller employment. 

To provide for those who cannot work and for mothers, who decide to remain 
with their children, a minimum standard of decent living to prevent deprivation 
and aid in saving children from the prison of poverty which has held their parents. 
... all present restrictions on eligibility — other than need — would be eliminated. 

The Administration bill (H.R. 14173, S. 2986) would set a new national 
policy for each of the three main guides suggested by the Commission. The 
implications for Illinois of these three features — coverage of working poor, 
family income floor, and simplified administration — are outlined below. 

Coverage of families of working poor. Under the Administration bill, a 
man supporting a wife and two children could earn up to $3,920 per year and 
still receive some pa)inent. National reports indicate there are more children 
in poverty whose fathers work all year, than there are children now covered 
by ADC. In 1966, there were 1.5 million families in poverty which were 
headed by a man under sixty-five who worked all year (the poverty line in 
1966 for a nonfarm family of four was $3,335) . There were 4.5 million chil- 
dren in such families, as against 3.5 million in ADC families at that time. 
These bits of infoiTnation do not permit estimates of the impact in Illinois. 
However, it is clear that family assistance payments for the first time would 
be available to many families where parents work for low wages. 

Family income floor. The Administration bill provides a minimum pay- 
ment based on family size and requires states to supplement these payments 

to present ADC le\'els in each state, for those groups of families now covered 
by ADC. In short, a national floor is provided, but the present state variations 
in ADC are frozen into the program. 

For southern states, the proposed floors ($1,000 per year for two, $1,600 
for four) are up to three times present ADC levels. In addition, many 
thousand additional families will be covered, not now eligible for ADC. 

For northern states such as Illinois, the floor is a little over half that now 
provided by ADC. Under the proposed plan, income for families no\v on 
ADC would apparently remain the same. 

Simplified administration. The Administration bill would largely eliminate 
eligibility requirements other than need, as the Commission recommended, 
for the basic family assistance payments. However, the bill requires state sup- 
plementation up to present ADC levels. The bill permits integrated adminis- 
tration of federal family assistance with state supplements, by either the 
federal government or the state government, as negotiated with each state. 
This requirement appears to perpetuate much of the machinery and paper- 
work presently required for ADC, at either the state or federal level. 

Therefore, one cannot predict whether, or how much, administration 
would be simplified for Illinois, since that would depend on the state plan 
to be developed and negotiated with the federal government. 

The impact of the bill on the Illinois state budget, and on poor families 
in Illinois, should also be considered. 

Will the plan provide relief to the state budget? The federal share of pay- 
ments to those families now on ADC would apparently increase by 10 to 20 
per cent. If the bill has the efTect of reaching more such families, then this 
gain for the state budget may be offset by greater numbers receiving benefits. 

Migration of poor families to the North would hopefully be slo\ved. 
Lowered immigration is dubious, however; there is not empirical evidence 
that ADC family heads came to Illinois for welfare. 

The fixed dollar levels stipulated in the bill may be eroded by inflation. 
The state would apparently hav^e to bear the cost of increased supplementa- 
tion, since the federal share is fixed at July, 1969, budget standai'ds of the 

In the short run then, state costs would apparently remain at about 
present levels, or decline slightly. The bill provides a leveling off but not re- 
lief to the state budget. 

Will the needs of the most deprived people in Illinois be better satisfied? 
There is a clear gain in coverage of families headed by working poor. How- 
ever, state supplementation would not be required for this group and their 
incomes could be lower than the incomes of families without earnings. The 
incentive for the underemployed father to be unemployed or to desert would 
apparently be maintained. 


In the area of social services around employment, there is a gain. The 
bill authorizes federal payment of 90 per cent of the costs of "manpower 
services, training, employment, and child care and related services" connected 
with employment. 

For middle-aged men and women who are not disabled but still cannot 
earn, there is no gain — the bill limits payments to households where there 
are at least two related persons, one a child. 

For the family now receiving ADC, the bill would seem to freeze present 
payment levels. Since families would still be maintained in poverty, parents 
would not seem to be much helped in their own efforts to break out of the 
cycle of poverty and frustration, so graphically described by the Commission. 
The national income floor of $1,600 for a family of four may be compared 
with levels defined by other groups, for various purposes : 

Administration Family Assistance Plan $ 1,600 

Budget standard, "average" family of four, 

Illinois Department of Public Aid, 1969 3,340 

Poverty Line Budget, non-farm family, Social 
Security Administration, 1968 ( "Near poverty" budget 

of SSA is about one-third higher. ) 3,553 

City Family Budget, Department of Labor, Bureau of 
Labor Statistics, 1969: 

"Higher Level" (homeownership, purchase of 
recreation and other services, automobile, 

complete household equipment, and taxes) 13,050 

"Moderate Level" 9,076 

"Lower Level" (high proportion for necessities, 

home rental, provide own services, free recreation) 5,915 

President's Commission on Income Maintenance; Ben Heineman, 

Chairman (recommended national income floor) 2,400 

National Welfare Rights Organization; an organization of welfare 

recipients (recommended national income guarantee) 5,500 

Public Aid Advisory Committee, Cook County, Joseph L. Block, 

Chairman (in a Critique of the Administration Bill, 12-5-69) 3,335 

White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health, 

12/4/69 (recommended national income floor, adopted 

by delegates) 5,500 




Since 1685 when the civic leaders of Boston went around closing up caves, 
there has been a government response to the housing situation. Over the 
years, of course, official methods of dealing with the housing problem have 
become more politic. Today, for example, governments typically issue mas- 
sive detailed reports,^ which rationalize complex programs, which in turn are 
facilitated by sophisticated delivery systems. But to what avail? These elabo- 
rate programmed responses have hardly been more effective than earlier 
primitive methods. As the Kerner Report noted, after more than three 
decades of housing programs, for many "the goal of a decent home and suit- 
able environment is as far distant as ever."^ 

The question is "Why?" Why is it that government has been unable to 
deal effectively with the problem of inadequate housing? Are more effective 
responses forthcoming? Does the issuance of the Kerner Report indicate a 
more meaningful response to the problem? Or to paraphrase Kenneth Clark, 
does the Report represent the same old movie being shown again? 

These are difficult questions to answer. Nonetheless, an analysis of the 
response to the Kerner Report might provide some insights. The purpose of 
this paper is to examine the extent to which the Commission's housing 
recommendations have been implemented. Hopefully, in accordance with 
the theme of the Assembly, the analysis will give some indication of progress 
in the housing field. 

The paper is divided into three parts. Part I summarizes the Commission's 
analysis of the housing problems and reviews key findings. Part II outlines 
the Commission's 10 housing recommendations and surveys the extent to 
which they have been implemented. In Part III there is an evaluation of the 
Report with suggestions for future directions in dealing with the housing 

^ To date, in the housing field, there have been three such reports issued by: 
(1) The Civil Disorders Commission {Kerner Report); (2) The National Commis- 
sion on Urban Problems (Douglas Commission) ; and (3) The President's Committee 
on Urban Housing (Kaiser Committee). 

"^Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (New York: 
Bantam Books, 1968), p. 467. Hereafter cited as Report. 


lission Analysis, Findings and Strategies 

In compelling language the Commission recognized and described the 
linkage between inadequate housing and civil disorder. In effect, the Com- 
mission admitted that inadequate housing was a serious political problem 
and in this significant sense its analysis differed from previous analyses. 

Previously, for example, housing was not considered to be a problem, 
much less a governmental or political problem. To be sure there were slums; 
but for many, slums were not necessarily viewed as an undesirable phenomenon, 
i.e., as a problem. On the contrary; for many, slums were viewed as a part of 
the "dynamics of progress," a "way station on the road up." According to 
this view slums were proof of the mobility process and in this sense were not 
considered a "problem."^ It is hardly surprising, in this context, that for 
years government did little to redress the matter of inadequate and indecent 

More recently, perhaps since the passage of the National Housing Act in 
1934, inadequate housing has been viewed as a governmental problem. How- 
ever, the housing problem typically has been associated with certain physical 
shortcomings, such as ugly buildings, unsanitary conditions, and general over- 
crowding. In accordance with this definition of the problem as a physical 
kind of condition, the characteristic governmental response was physically to 
remove the building or to rehabilitate an area. Obviously such programs as 
urban renewal were designed, not to eliminate the conditions which caused 
inadequate housing, but only to deal with the physical manifestation of the 
underlying conditions. The point is that programs based upon a defective 
problem analysis were doomed to failure. But at least inadequate housing 
was recognized officially as a governmental problem. This was the necessary 
first step. 

With the issuance of the Kerner Report, the governmental response to 
inadequate housing has entered what might be viewed as the second phase. 
With regard to housing, the Commission's central finding was that 

In nearly every disorder city . . . grievances related to housing were important 
factors in the structure of Negro discontent.* 

In short, the Commission said that, in part, inadequate housing conditions 
had caused recent civil disorders. The housing problem, by this analysis, was 
a political problem which logically required a political response. 

Clearly the Commission added a new dimension to the analysis of the 

^ See Alan Haber, Report to the Office of Economic Opportunity Demonstration 
Section: The Community Organization Approach to Anti-Poverty Action (Ann 
Arbor: University of Michigan), 1967, p. 353. 

■' Report, p. 473. 


housing problem. Whether the Commission proposed a more effective or even 
a different response to this problem analysis is another question. 

Having established that inadequate housing represented one of the deepest 
grievances of the Negro community,^ the Commission suggested two "basic 
strategies" for dealing with the situation. These strategies derived from the 
finding that two major factors, widespread poverty and racial discrimination 
in the housing market, sustained inadequate housing conditions and intoler- 
able grievances.'' In accordance with these dual findings, the Commission 
proposed : 

1. That the supply of housing suitable for low-income families should be 
expanded on a massive basis. 

2. That areas outside of ghetto neighborhoods should be opened up to 
occupancy by racial minorities.^ 

To implement these "strategies" — and as a way of responding to the 
analysis of the housing problem — the Commission proposed 10 key programs. 
The following section will outline the nature of these 10 programs and will 
survey, point by point, the extent to Avhich they have been implemented, 
especially in Illinois. 

Part II 

The Question of Implementation: Illinois Response to the Kerner 
Commission Recommendations 

As an overall goal the Commission first recommended provision of 
600,000 low- and moderate-income housing units next year, and 6 million 
units over the next five years. This proposal was a clear recognition of both 
the dimensions of the housing problem and the unprecedented national effort 
which would be necessaiy to meet widespread housing needs. As a major 
objective then, the degree to which this proposal has been implemented pro- 
vides a rough measure of the impact of the Report in general. Unfortunately 
this proposal has not significantly been implemented at either the national 
or the state level. 

Although no exact figures are available at the national level, HUD officials 
estimated that a maximum of 233,000 subsidized units could be constructed in 
fiscal 1969.^ This estimate was based upon receipt of maximum appropriation 
requests. Given the recent substantial cutbacks in housing funding in general, 
it is doubtful that even this "less than half" maximum will be realized. Evi- 

° According to the Commission's "grievance"-scaling system, inadequate housing 
ranked at the first level of intensity behind police practices and unemployment. 
Report, p. 143. 

^Report, p. 473. 

' Report, p. 474. 

^ One Year Later (Washington D. C: The Urban Coalition, 1969), p. 51. 

dence from the state level indicates that achievements in low-cost housing 
construction are less than impressive. 

In Illinois for example, on a proportionate basis (with approximately 
l/20th of the total national population) no fewer than 30,000 new low- 
income units should have been constructed. This is a minimum figure, as it 
is deduced without regard to the special housing needs which exist in a 
highly urbanized, industrial state. Nevertheless, even this 30,000 minimum 
has not been reached. Since the issuance of the Commission's recommenda- 
tions, only 3,832 low-rent housing units have been constructed in Illinois in 
1968.'' While this figure represents a 21 per cent increase over the number 
of units added during 1967 (further stressing the scope of the need for low- 
income housing in Illinois), the 21 per cent growth rate has "enabled Illi- 
nois to maintain the position as second" in provision of low-income units. ^° 
The point is that other states are doing no better. 

It should be noted that although these levels of implementation are hardly 
impressive, the provision of more units represented only the first of ten Com- 
mission proposals. While the remaining nine recommendations also can be 
viewed as a way of providing more units, for purposes of analysis, these other 
proposals can be discussed as separate programs. This is to suggest that the 
question of implementation can be measured in greater detail by an exami- 
nation of these other programs. 

For example, the second recommendation called for an expanded and 
modified below-market interest rate program. With focus on the private sec- 
tor, the idea was to make long-term, low-interest financing available to non- 
profit and limited-profit sponsors. The Commission viewed this mechanism as 
the best one currently available "for engaging private enterprise in the task of 
providing moderate and lower-income housing. "^^ 

At the national level, under the 1968 Housing Act, section 236 estab- 
lished an assistance program whereby limited-profit, nonprofit, or cooperative 
housing sponsors can receive FHA-insured mortgage financing for as low 
as 1 per cent interest rate for up to 40 years. Section 236 replaces the familiar 
221 (d) (3) provision \vhich had set interest rates at 3 per cent but which 
is no longer being funded. Whereas 221 (d) (3) set a rather high upper- 
income level of eligibility, section 236 gives preference to lower-income fami- 
lies. Moreover, under the new section 235 (j) in the 1968 act, and under 
the 1966 221 (h) pi'ovision amended in 1968, financed interest rates can go 
as low as 1 per cent. Generally, under any of these procedures the govern- 
ment makes up the difference between the market interest rate and the 
amount of interest which tenants, in effect, pay through their rentals. Al- 

^ Report of the State Housing Board to the Governor, "Highlights of 1968 and 
Observations" (Chicago, Illinois: Illinois State Housing Board, 1969), p. 1. 
'°Ibid., p. 1. 
" Report, p. 476. 

though these technical statutoiy changes have been made, HUD officials 
hesitate to evaluate the effectiveness of the changes due to the general con- 
dition of "tight money." That is, even modest mortgage rates are relatively 
severe under the current tight-money situation. ^^ 

In Illinois, according to recent statutor)' changes, the Illinois Housing 
Development Authority (IHDA), which was established in 1967, may make 
noninterest-bearing advances to nonprofit corporations for constructing or 
rehabilitating housing. Again, however, there is a serious limitation in that 
IHDA can make no advances unless permanent mortgaging is ensured by 
state or federal money. ^^ The State Housing Board also is active in generat- 
ing private sector construction and rehabilitation. According to the Board's 
1968 report, more than V2 million dollars was granted to two not-for-profit 
corporations in order to foster the construction of moderate as well as low- 
income housing. Although this allocation is innovative in the sense that some 
money goes to neighborhood corporations (in East St. Louis) , in view of the 
scope of the housing problem, the amount disbursed is modest at best.^* 
Again, at the state level, it is safe to conclude that generation of private 
sector money and productivity has not been especially effective with regard 
to low-income units. 

The same conclusion might be drawn with respect to the Commission's 
third recommendation which called for an expanded and modified rent sup- 
plement program, and an ownership supplement program. According to the 
Commission, the rent supplement program represented a highly flexible tool 
for subsidizing housing costs "because it permits adjustment of the subsidy 
according to the income of the tenant."^' Although the concept clearly has 
theoretical merits, there has been mixed progress in meeting the criteria sug- 
gested by the Commission. First, rigid architectural standards have not been 
relaxed to make unit cost standards easier to meet.^® As a second matter, 
some legislative changes have been effected. For example, the statutory limi- 
tation of rent supplements to new or newly rehabilitated housing has been 
removed. As a third matter, the rent supplement concept has been extended 
to provide home owoiership for low-income families. As the Urban Coalition 
reports : 

^' See an excellent summary of the program in Guide to Federal Low- and Mod- 
erate-Income Housing and Development Programs (Washington, D. C: The Urban 
Coalition), 1968. 

'"^ Illinois Revised Statutes, 1967, Ch. SlVi, Sec. 309, 310. 

^* Report of the State Housing Board to the Governor, "Housing Corporations" 
(Chicago, Illinois: Illinois State Housing Board, 1969), p. 26. East St. Louis re- 
ceived only $37,754.25. 

^'Report, p. 477. 

^" With regard to low-cost production techniques, architects generally are viewed 
as a major obstacle in that they hesitate to become involved in mass-produced 
"neutral" buildings. 

Under the new interest subsidy program for homeowners, 25 percent of the initial 
money can be used to aid in the purchase of existing homes." 

These technical expansions, however, seem to be offset by a significant cut- 
back in rent supplement funds from $65 million to $30 million. In this 
context, any technical statutory revisions might be viewed as irrelevant. What 
good does it do to make less money more expendable? At the very least, 
the monetary cutbacks seem to push the realization of legislative achieve- 
ments far into the future. 

The Commission's fourth proposal called for a federal write-down of 
interest rates on loans to private builders. Although similar to the second 
proposal, this recommendation generally was more oriented to private de- 
velopers. This distinction is that "private" in this context refers to normal 
profit dealers. The federal government responded to this proposal by making 
write-down assistance available through section 235 of the 1968 Housing 
Act, whereby FHA makes mortgage assistance payments to the private hous- 
ing developer's commercial mortgagor. The assistance is similar to that of 
section 236 (interest reduction payments) in that the program can lower 
the interest rate paid by a moderate-income buyer to as low as 1 per cent.^^ 
It should be noted, however, that the groups affected by this program gen- 
erally will be those of a higher income than those affected by section 236. 
That is, the program is designed for private unlimited profit developers whose 
market, as the Commission recognized, would be the "moderate-rent"^^ ten- 
ant. Such a program seems to have little bearing on the major sustaining 
conditions of inadequate housing, i.e., widespread poverty and private market 

The Commission's fifth proposal called for an expanded and more diver- 
sified public housing program. The idea here was to expand funding so as 
to reduce unit cost limitations and thereby overcome institutional projects 
and large concentrations of low-income families. To achieve the shift in 
emphasis, the Commission urged: first, the leasing of scattered site units; 
and second, the expansion of present "turnkey" programs whereby housing 
authorities purchase low-rent units constructed by private developers instead 
of constructing new projects. 

With regard to the first objective, leased housing for families in public 
units has been a part of the Housing Act since 1965. Although the new 
leasing programs enacted in 1968 added new features (turnkey is the promi- 
nent change), generally there has been no dramatic change in the number 
of public housing dwellers in privately owned buildings. Since 1965, for 

" One Year Later, p. 52. 

^* Guide to Federal Law and Moderate Income Housing and Community 
Development Programs, p. 10. 
^^ Report, p. 478. 


example, leased units have been occupied primarily by the elderly. There 
is no evidence to indicate that this was changed significantly; but even if 
it -was, the gain is offset by the fact that the number of families lix'ing in 
leased, noninstitutional units is not significant. Chicago, ^vith 36,000 families 
in public housing, for example, had only 875 families moved into "standard 
apartments" in privately o^vned buildings under the Chicago Housing Au- 
thority's leasing program. 

With regard to the second objective, a number of "turnkey" programs 
exist whereby housing authorities are authorized to purchase low-rent units 
constructed by private developers. While these programs represent legal 
devices for ending racial concentration, at present there are no programs 
that seriously threaten the continued existence of the slums. 

This is true with regard to the Commission's high priority sixth recom- 
mendation: mi expanded Model Cities Program. Viewing Model Cities 
as "potentially the most effective weapon in the federal arsenal for a long- 
term, comprehensive attack on the problems of American cities,"^° the Com- 
mission urged that the program be expanded beyond the 1967 coverage of 
63 cities, and that appropriations be raised to a minimum of $1 billion. The 
manner in which these dual recommendations were implemented reveals a 
great deal about the general nature of the political process and about the 
efficacy of housing programs in particular. On the one hand, in the second- 
round allocations, the number of Model Cities programs was increased to 
150 in 1968-69. On the other hand, Model Cities funds were cut back from 
$500 million to $312.5 million.^^ The net effect of these two changes might 
be to give the outward appearance of progress while actually destroying the 
meaning and purpose of the Model Cities concept. Consider that the origi- 
nal purpose of the program was to concentrate funds and resources in a few 
selected "demonstration" cities. Given the nature of the political process — 
with the need on the part of decision-makers to expand their constituencies 
— the funds were so disbursed as to destroy the original concept of the pro- 
gram. The disconcerting fact is not that cities were selected for "political" 
reasons, but that the fragmenting nature of the political process reversed the 
purpose of a key housing program. 

The argument can be made, of course, that any input of money in some 
cities is indication of meaningful progress. For example, in Illinois, the four 
cities which receive Model Cities money use limited funds not only as oper- 
ating money but also as "seed" money. That is, initial planning and action 
grants are used to attract other federal programs and resources. Although 
it is too earlv to evaluate the effectiveness of the four Illinois Model Cities 

'" Report, p. 479. 

'' See One Year Later, pp. 51-58. 

programs,^^ theoretically, at least, even small amounts of initial money might 
have significant import. In this sense there has been some achievement; 
however, in terms of the Commission's criteria, funding of the program was 
not sufficient to expand the coverage from 63 to 150 cities. Consequently, 
Model Cities programs currently are operating under severe limitations. 

Since half of the Model Cities' total 1968 fiscal authorization of $625 mil- 
lion was eaiTnarked for urban renewal programs, it is appropriate to discuss 
the Commission's seventh recommendation which called for a reoriented and 
expanded urban renewal program. Essentially the Commission urged greater 
funding levels as well as more emphasis in renewal programs on low-income 
needs. The realization was that past projects, with limited funds, "were 
aimed primarily at bolstering the economic strengths of downtown areas."^^ 
The overall result of such projects was to substantially reduce the supply of 
low-cost housing. 

In response to the needs of the poor, a number of statutory changes have 
been made with regard to the 1968 urban renewal provisions. For example, 
the 1968 act provides: (1) that 20 per cent of the housing units redeveloped 
in urban renewal projects shall be for low- and moderate-income families; 
(2) that a special "write-down" price for urban renewal land is available 
when the land is put to low-income uses; and (3) that in general, urban 
renewal proposals must give priority to the needs of low- and moderate- 
income families. In short, in terms of statutory revisions, urban renewal is 
increasingly being converted into a tool to help low-income families. Al- 
though the funding of urban renewal was cut from the budget request of 
$1.4 billion to $800 million, this amount continued expenditures at prior 
levels.^* It is also significant that more than $300 million of Model Cities 
money was earmarked to have an impact on urban renewal areas. None- 
theless, these statutory changes have not as yet resulted in noticeable reorienta- 
tion projects. In Chicago, for example, disputes between low-income renewal 
residents and upper-income area residents have not been resolved. Given the 
truly "advisory" nature of project committees in Chicago, only the most opti- 
mistic observer would conclude that Chicago's poor will win in a long-term 
dispute with the urban renewal bureaucracy. The serious cutback in Chi- 
cago's program (from $50V2 million to $371/2 million) operates as a further 
constraint on the major Illinois urban renewal program. 

With regard to the eighth recommendation, reform of obsolete building 
codes, even statutory changes have been difficult to implement. There has 

" Chicago and East St. Louis have completed the planning phase but have just 
entered the first year of the action phase. Rock Island and Carbondale, second-round 
selections, are in the planning phase. 

'' Report, p. 480. 

-* One Year Later, p. 58. For a concise summary of this and other housing 
programs see Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report (Washington, D. C: U.S. 
Government Printing Office, 1968). 

been activity at both the national and the state level, but little achievement 
to date. 

In general, the purpose of building code revision is to eliminate anti- 
quated requirements that prevent builders from taking advantage of new 
mass-production and innovative technologies. Nationally, there has been no 
effective response to this serious problem. Although both the Douglas Com- 
mission on Urban Problems and the National Bureau of Standards have been 
active in this area, as yet there is no National Uniform Building Code.^^ 
Nor is there likely to be such a code in the immediate future. At present, 
HUD officials seem to be emphasizing the need for state level action in this 

At the state level there has been some action, but little success. In Illinois, 
two bills which would have provided for statewide "performance" standards, 
advisory councils and certification of building inspectors, were defeated in 
the 1969 legislative session. ^"^ Although a similar bill undoubtedly will be 
submitted in 1971, legislative insiders recognize the great political obstacles 
which must be overcome to get a bill through the General Assembly.^^ At 
present there is no statewide code, and local governments are free to enact 
a variety of measures which are expensive to modify and difficult to enforce. 

In contrast to this situation, there has been state and national action with 
regard to the Commission's ninth proposal which called for enactment of a 
national, comprehensive, and enforceable open occupancy law. 

At the national level, as a legislative memorial to Martin Luther King, 
fair housing was made part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. According to 
the Urban Coalition, however, Title VIII of the act "only gradually will 
become the kind of competitive fair housing measure advocated by the Com- 
mission."^^ The absence of meaningful enforcement mechanisms was cited 
as the major reason. While the administration requested $11 million for 
enforcement purposes, the Senate voted $9 million and initially the House 
refused to authorize any money for implementation. Commenting on the 
denial of funds in 1968, HUD Secretary Weaver said: 

We simply cannot implement the fair housing law without more personnel. . . . 
Without manpower, the fair housing legislation is meaningless.^^ 

^ There are a number of unofficial codes sponsored by the Building Officials 
Conference of America, the National Insurance Association, the Southern Building 
Officials, and the International Society of Building Officials. 

^^ State Housing Board Report, (Springfield: State Housing Board, 1969), 
p. 2. A performance code (as distinguished from a specific standard code) makes 
technological innovations possible by relaxing the need to comply with rigid sizes, 
rules, and materials standards. 

"' The construction industry and labor unions are two sources of opposition. 

'* One Year Later, p. 54. 

^^Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report (Washington, D. C: Congressional 
Quarterly, Inc., Sept. 27, 1968), p. 2540. 


Although a supplemental appropriation of $2 million was approved, the bill 
is no panacea and enforcement problems are numerous. Quickie listings, 
informal listings, and private brokerage techniques remain as major obstacles. 
Ultimate success will depend, it seems, upon changing realtors' attitudes. 

At the state level, open housing legislation has been introduced and de- 
feated in the past four regular sessions. In a special session in July, 1968, a 
fair housing bill did get through the House but was killed in the Senate's 
Registration and Miscellany Committee. However, at the end of the session, 
"permissive" legislation was enacted \vhich gave cities and villages statutory 
recognition to enact open occupancy ordinances at the local level. ^° In 1969, 
a similar bill applying the permissive language to counties was defeated. The 
current situation is that at the state level there is no "comprehensive and 
enforceable" open occupancy law. And, for a while at least, there is not 
likely to be one. 

At the local level, a number of cities have enacted fair housing codes. 
The city of Chicago, for example, has had an open occupancy ordinance 
for some time. Suffice it to say that implementation has been less than 

Perhaps the most dramatic response has been in regard to the Commis- 
sion's tenth recommendation, reorientation of federal housing programs to 
place more low- and moderate-income housing outside of ghetto areas. So- 
called "scatteration" techniques have been discussed at the national level in 
terms of the leasing features of "turnkey" provisions and land availability 
programs. However, the most significant development in terms of the pro- 
posal is the famous "Austin" decision in Illinois. 

In a Chicago case^^ initiated by Negro tenants in public housing, U.S. 
District Court Judge Richard Austin prescribed in detail the steps which 
must be taken 

to prohibit the future use and to remedy the past eflfects of the defendant Chicago 
Housing Authority's unconstitutional site selection and tenant assignment 
procedures. . . . 

Basically the Negro tenants argued that CHA sites for family public housing 
were chosen by methods which had the effect of perpetuating Chicago's pat- 
tern of residential racial segregation. Information in the case disclosed that 
CHA officials deferred to local aldermen who vetoed any extension of public 
housing into white neighborhoods. Essentially, the "Austin Plan" seeks to 
reverse the concentration of housing projects in all-black neighborhoods by 
requiring specifically that CHA build 700 units in predominantly white areas 
(in the city or in the suburbs) before it builds any units in black areas of the 

'"Illinois Revised Statutes, 1969, Ch. 24, Sec. 11-1. 

"' Gautreaux v. Chicago Housing Authority, Civ. No. 66C1459 (ND ILL., July 1, 


city. Moreover, the "Austin Plan" prohibits CHA from concentrating large 
numbers of units in or near a single location, and from building family units 
above the third floor. In short, Austin ruled that CHA must build small and 
integrated public housing developments on scattered sites throughout the 
Chicago metropolitan area. Without question, the Austin Plan is of great 
political significance. At the local level and in the housing area, it is of the 
same purport as the Brown school desegregation case. The issue is whether 
the Austin decision will be implemented with the same deliberate speed. 

Those optimistic about the Austin Plan see the eventual end of the "proj- 
ect" concept. However, given the past resistence in white neighborhoods to 
low-income blacks, it is difficult to assume that implementation will be real- 
ized. Those who are pessimistic about the Austin Plan see the end of public 
housing in the Chicago area. That is, the ultimate solution to the problem 
might be no further constiTiction.^^ At this point, however, it is only safe to 
note that either alternative is possible. ^^ 

Conclusions and Alternatives 

Patterns of implementation. Obviously, in vie^v of the Austin decision and 
other developments, it is hazardous to draw any firm conclusions regarding 
the question of implementation. Things are still happening and evaluation 
is difficult. Nonetheless, wdth regard to the 10 housing recommendations, a 
number of general patterns seem to emerge : 

1. In general, implementation has not measured up to the Commission's 
own criteria. Nothing close to 600,000 units have been built. Racial ghettos 
remain a part of the urban scene. To be sure, progress is not achieved over- 
night. But upon closer analysis it appears that even long-range meaningful 
implementation is unlikely. 

2. As a particular matter, it appears that evident legal achievements were 
offset by political constraints such as low funding and lack of enforcement 
mechanisms. For example, at the legislative and judicial levels, there has 
been evidence of both detailed and dramatic change. However, many of 

"- This is hardly an unreal possibility. In the mid-50's, the expansion of the 
Branch County Hospital became entwined with the racial issue of "where" the 
new facility would be located. Integration-oriented Negro leaders wanted private 
neighborhood hospitals to open their doors to Negro patients. The city officials 
wanted the new hospital built in the black community. In the end, the race issue 
was resolved by not building the proposed facility. See Edward C. Banfield, Political 
Influence (New York: Free Press, 1961), Chapter 2. 

^' Other alternatives are of course possible. For example, city officials might 
get around such technicalities as three-story limits for families by continuing to 
construct high-rises with families in the first three floors and elderly residents on 
the next seven. 


these largely rhetorical responses have yet to be translated into actual change 
of problem conditions. 

3. In the few cases where responses have been implemented, the charac- 
teristic approach has been so diffuse as to render the response ineffective. 
One apparent example is the fragmentation of Model Cities money. At the 
state level, the same kind of fragmentation occurred wdth the disbursal of 
$110,000 of housing board money to no less than 14 local political units. 
Theoretically, the money was to be used for so-called comprehensive planning. 

4. Not only have achievements been infrequent, but it seems that the few 
cases of achievement have occurred in selected areas. For example, it ap- 
pears that achievements are more frequent in programs aimed at the private 
sector than in recommendations aimed at low-income groups. As noted, in 
response to recommendation four, section 235 was initiated to engage the 
private sector in the housing program. Theoretically, such a program in- 
directly benefits the poor. But there are serious doubts that the "trickle 
down" theory has ever operated in favor of the disadvantaged. As another 
example, the one program which maintained — ■ indeed increased — its fund- 
ing le\^el was urban renewal. Traditionally, this program has aided the cen- 
tral district businessman at the expense of the poor. 

5. Moreover, the types of changes occuning have to do mainly with 
structural rather than substantive matters. For example, with regard to 
public housing, the provision of "in-project" services can be viewed, not as 
a substantive change, but as a structural rationalization of the delivery of 
traditional services. At the state level, the creation of a cabinet-rank Depart- 
ment of Local Government Affairs in large part represents a reshuffling of 
traditional governmental relationships and services. 

In summary, it appears that the implementation of Commission recom- 
mendations has been modest. Moreover, responses have been largely rhetori- 
cal, fragmented, and limited to certain areas and certain types of changes. 
At this point, therefore, it seems appropriate to ask why implementation is 
difficult to effect. 

Technical and substantive problems. In terms of dealing with the housing 
situation tw^o categories of problems are evident. 

First, it is possible to identify a number of serious technical (statutory or 
structural) obstacles to effective programming. At the national level, for 
instance, it is known that complicated rules of procedure obstruct meaningful 
utilization of the rent supplements program. At the national level, coordi- 
nated housing programs are hindered by multiple sources of funding, which 
delays program "take off." At the state level, fragmentation of authority 
between SHB and IHDA represents another theoretical drawback. As noted, 
the Commission recognized such problems and placed great emphasis on 
technical kinds of changes, and in certain cases such changes were effected. 

No doubt focus on the revision of such technical problems is significant. But 
the technical obstacle is only one part of the problem of implementing change. 
There is a second set of obstacles which might be classified as substantive 
matters. It appears that the key substantive block to effective implementation 
of recommendations has to do with the question of political power in our 
society. The argument is that the political system does not solve the housing 
problem because the very political processes which control the government 
limit the system's effectiveness in the housing area. That is, the determina- 
tion of the public good (establishing the priorities of public investment and 
governmental intei-v'ention) goes on traditionally in legislative bodies and in 
executive agencies. However, as Alan Haber notes : 

The composition of these bodies and hence the policy predispositions of their mem- 
bers is determined by electoral and appointive processes. These processes in turn 
reflect the relative political power of organized constituencies and interest groups.** 

The affluent are the most powerful and the best organized. The influence 
of the National Association of Real Estate Boards, wdth a constituency of 
84,000 realtors, is a good example. The black poor have no influence and 
are not as yet organized. That is why they are the victims of the housing 
situation. They will continue to have a housing problem until they gain 
political power. Government officials are responsive and responsible to the 
organized private interests which control the political processes. It follows 
that housing programs will reflect and support the interests of powerful pri- 
vate groups. By this analysis it is hardly surprising that housing programs 
designed to aid the poor have enjoyed minimal success. In this sense, the 
substantive issue of political power precedes technical changes and is central 
to the housing problem. 

A substantive-political alternative. Clearly the Kerner Commission did 
not deal with the substantive issue of political power. The Report gives two 
paragraphs to the matter of powerlessness,^^ but generally the Commission 
focused on technical changes and recommendations. This is reflected in the 
Commission's use of the term "strategy." In the Report, "strategy" is used 
in the sense of a general objective (more housing, less segregation) not as a 
means of implementation. Although such goals are important, programs will 
fail if methods of implementation are not suggested. 

Within the scope of this paper it is impossible to suggest the many ways 
of dealing with the imbalance of power in our system and the subsequent 
linkage to the problem of housing. Nonetheless, if the relevant issue is power- 
lessness, there is at least one way of dealing with it. Two housing programs 
and one poverty program have, to some degree, endorsed and legitimized the 

^ "The American Underclass," Poverty and Human Resources Abstracts, Vol. II, 
No. 3 (May-June, 1967), pp. 5-21. 
'= Report, p. 205. 

concept of community organization of the disadvantaged so that they might 
have some control over government programs and thus over their own des- 
tinies. The community organization concept is based on the notion that until 
the disadvantaged enter the calculus of decision-making, government policies 
will not benefit them.^^ The stress is on the maximum participation of the 
poor, and the objective is to secure them a place in the political system via 
political mobilization. Decentralization, self-determination, political indepen- 
dence, and control of programs are techniques associated with the community 
organization model. While the concept has its shortcomings and is by no 
means the only option available, it is offered as one way of dealing with the 
key obstacle of powerlessness to effect meaningful changes. 

Perhaps it is unfair to suggest that the Commission members should have 
dealt with the substantive as well as the technical issues. Given the limits of 
time, staff, legitimacy, etc., it is impossible to be all things to all men.^^ At 
the very least, it would be difficult for any group of "reasonable" men to 
propose "radical" solutions to political problems. 

On the other hand, the Commission did come up with a radical (root 
cause) analysis of the riots and of the housing problem. Why is it that Com- 
mission methods of dealing with the problem fell short of the analysis? Is 
there something about American politics which precludes designing effective 
solutions to problems?^^ Again, these are difficult questions. The only cer- 
tain proposition is that there will be no cure until the diagnosis is faced up to. 

The essence of the Commission's diagnosis is that white racism, nurtured 
by a white power structure, was the root cause of black rioting. The logic of 
the present analysis is that white racism must be ended and that to end it, 
power in America must be redistributed. The Commission did not adequately 
deal with this key matter. Until the issue is dealt with, and until power is 
redistributed, governmental responses will be irrelevant to the needs of the 
powerless. Housing and other programs will surely fail. And in the words 
of Kenneth Clark, we can expect to see the same old movie again. This is 
an ugly thought, but one compelled by the facts. 

^^ Alan Haber presents the model in his Report to the OEO. 

" See Michael Lipsky and David J. Olsen, On the Policy of Riot Commissions 
(Madison: Institute for Research on Poverty, 1968). 

^ Other groups — divergent as the SDS or the Wallaceites — have a fairly 
accurate assessment of their situation (alienation, nonresponsiveness of government). 
Characteristically, how^ever, their solutions are wide of the mark. The Kerner Commis- 
sion, by analogy, fell short of the mark. 




It is appropriate to begin this section with what should really be the major 
conclusion of the paper. My remarks are confined with rare exceptions to 
the narrow topic of police-community relations in the urban ghettos. Be- 
cause of this, it is necessary to point out that the problem of race relations 
in the modem United States is only secondarily a police problem and it is 
only secondarily a problem that can be dealt with by improving this or that 
aspect of public administration. The problem is basically political in the 
larger meaning of that term and its long-run solution will require political 
action not only to make available equal opportunity for Negroes to compete 
effectively \vith whites but political action designed to make the more disad- 
vantaged Negroes capable of effective competition. 

Recent Social Changes: The Negro Enters Civil Society 

This is not the time to repeat the usual litany of social change with which 
by now everyone is familiar — changes in the labor market, in the willingness 
of many heretofore acquiescent groups to accept restriction, etc. There are, 
however, some changes that have not received as much attention as they de- 
serve and which are particularly relevant to the problem at hand. Four such 
changes merit brief attention: the entrance of the Negro into civil society; 
recent patterns of migration of Negroes to Northern and Western cities; the 
decreasing relevance of the old politics in the face of new bureaucratic social 
instruments; and basic shifts away from coercion as a means of social control. 

The most fundamental of recent changes is the entrance of the Negro 
into civil society. Like most such events, the occasion is one of turmoil and 
violence. This entrance has two important implications germane to the Com- 
mission's concerns. First, Negroes are now legitimate claimants to protection 
by the police. No longer are "Casbah" strategies of walling up Negro areas 
without police service acceptable. Second, like all citizens in a modem legal 
community, they are now entitled to protection from the police. The balance 
is hard to strike in any situation but it points to the most fundamental, long- 
run issue in police-Negro relations. 

But Negroes enter modern civil society not only by having civic institutions 

extended to them where they are but by migrating from the rural South to 
the urban centers mainly in the North and West. Thus the rapid change in 
the civil status of Negroes is greatly complicated by the appearance of large 
numbers of urban ghetto residents almost entirely unequipped for life in the 
city. The combination of migration and disadvantage helps create special 
cultural forms which are of particular significance for policing the ghetto. 
But migration and segregation also make for great heterogeneity in the ghetto. 
All sorts and conditions of men can often be found in densely packed prox- 
imity. This density and heterogeneity, coupled with lack of detailed knowl- 
edge of ghetto social structure and also coupled with the way police activities 
are organized, means that police often seem to act without the fine discrimi- 
nations they are able to make under other circumstances. 

Problems posed by migration and by the clamoring of excluded popula- 
tions for civil dignity are not new to American society. They have existed in 
the past and have been met with greater or lesser success and orderliness by 
a variety of social devices. What distinguishes the new situation is not only 
the intransigence of race as a source of social conflict but the ineffectiveness 
of the old politics of bargaining and machine representation and the rise of 
large bureaucratic instruments of social administration. The new politics in- 
cludes the service bureaucracies, not as relatively weak, passive organizations 
permeated by external private pressures, but as strong, active organizations 
relatively removed from the effects of extra-organizational social involvements. 
Given this situation, the center of gravity in social change and adaptation 
shifts from electoral to organizational politics; from organizations as products 
of the community to the community as the product of organizations; from 
the relatively "blind" operation of many small units in a dispersed power 
market to the relatively "rational" operation of fewer and larger units. 

This change brings opportunities as well as difficulties. In the section on 
modem police organization we shall see that in the case of the police and 
police-community relations the opportunities greatly outweigh the problems, 
and that properly conceived and properly handled, the "principled bureau- 
cracy" makes available an important instrument for the reduction of com- 
munity conflict. 

The last of the social changes on which I shall comment is the basic shift 
away from coercion as a means of social control in modern American society. 
This can be documented in many areas — changes in child-rearing practices, 
shifts to human relations approaches in industrial management, the elaborate 
development of extra-curricular activities as a way of managing children in 
school, etc. This is not to say that authoritative control is not exercised, but 
rather that the role of physical coercion has declined appreciably. And, just 
as importantly, the rhetorics of social control have changed perhaps even 
more than the realities. 


Looked at on the largest stage — control and integration in the nation — 
major social conflicts are increasingly mitigated by distributive rather than 
repressive activities. This change in the relative balance of coercion and dis- 
tribution in the integration of American society has had a bad impact on 
the general "public image" of the police who seem a brutish anachronism in 
a society increasingly devoted to control through economic sanctions, ideo- 
logical persuasion, and welfare-state distributive programs. Even a simple 
accounting of public expenditures in the Twentieth Century shows not only 
that investment in police has not kept pace with simple factors such as in- 
flation and population growth but also that investment in other means of 
managing social conflict — such as education, economic subsidies, and wel- 
fare ■ — ■ have increased dramatically relative to investment in police. Negroes 
are the last large, identifiable and self-conscious group to experience the 
transition from control through coercion to the more complex modern situa- 
tion. This transition is closely linked to the migration from the rural South 
previously mentioned. 

The police are never "popular" in the common usage of that term. But 
the gradual development of noncoercive forms of social control has not only 
affected the place of the police in the general armamentarium of the state but 
has also in many ways increased the isolation of the police in the more rou- 
tine activities of social control in the local community. Until quite recently 
the police were systematically excluded from participation in the distribution 
of the "goodies" of the welfare state and, more significantly, they were also 
excluded from participation in the supportive and rehabilitative activities 
that are the welfare state's unique approach to the management of specifi- 
cally deviant behavior. This exclusion was not the consequence of hostility 
between Negroes and the police but of the hostility toward the police of 
generations of social workers and other distributive functionaires. Indeed 
many rehabilitation programs have an overt anti-police ideology. Some 
change seems to be taking place, especially in the management of juveniles. 
Suffice it to say that the stripping from the police of any distributive and 
supportive functions precisely at a time when the society as a whole has 
shifted away from a coercive "stance" toward the citizenry and also at the 
time when rural Southern Negroes are for the first time able to escape the 
atmosphere of pervasive white violence leaves the police in an extremely ex- 
posed position. 

Limits on Improvements in Police-Community Relations: Police as Leaders 

In most American cities until recently one way for the police to improve 
their relations with the community was to be rough on Negroes. Indeed in 
many cities, especially, though by no means exclusively Southern cities, a 
fundamental mission of the police was Negro control. Statements like these 
are harsh and, perhaps, a bit exaggerated but they point up the limits of 

optimism and of euphemism. For many purposes the community does not 
exist. Instead, there are harsh conflicts and highly conflicting conceptions 
of what the police should do. As Negroes become more civically and politi- 
cally significant they (or the more articulate leaders) demand that they too 
be heard and that they too be seen as part of a "community" to which the 
police must "relate." The dimensions and difficulties of the problem can be 
seen in the ironic fact that despite great unevenness across the country Negroes 
sometimes have better relations with the police than with other segments of 
the civil order. 

In many cities it is possible for a Negro to get efficient and fair police 
service. In no city is it possible to get the same from realtors. In many cities 
the police assign their best people to the ghetto while the schools assign their 
worst. In many cities it is possible to get a policeman, difficult to get a 
lawyer. In many cities police are in the ghetto nights and weekends working 
with troubled boys while teachers escape. In many cities a young, intelligent 
Negro has a chance to become a municipal policeman — none at all to be- 
come a union plumber. In many cities a Negro woman fearful of armed 
robbery can get serious police attention and at least hope for action against 
the felon. For her to seriously hope for action against a derelict landlord 
would cast doubt on her sanity. In many cities it is possible to be treated 
decently in the station house but not to be allowed at all in the country club. 

We are, in short, asking the police to lead the community in race rela- 
tions. For them merely to reflect the community would be a disaster. To say 
this makes plain the limits of reasonable expectation, however, and cautions 
us to be on the alert. The American police have traditionally been used to 
perform tasks too disgusting for the rest of the populace. We are in some 
danger that relating to Negroes will join the list. 

If the police are to improve their relations in the Negro ghetto and if 
they are to lead, as they must, in extending civil protection and social decency 
to the disadvantaged Negroes, then they must be organized so as to be free 
of certain community involvements. They must paradoxically be organized 
so as to decrease certain forms of community influence so they can be guided 
by principled norms of conduct and not by subgroup prejudice. It is, in 
short, no help to have the police closely linked into the local community if 
that community's main concern is the suppression of Negroes. 

These considerations lead naturally into the brief discussion of modem 
police organization which follows. But they also lead naturally to a relative 
pessimism about at least the short-run future. It will take important efforts 
by the police merely to keep things from getting worse. Moreover, if the 
small cadre of truly extremist leadership among Negroes is successful they 
will seek to provoke incidents between police and populace for the sole pur- 
pose of triggering disorder. 

Modern Police Organization: From Cultural Participation to Community Management 

Research on police organization has only begun and we have no truly 
detailed studies either of the historical development of police organization 
or of the effects of various ways of organizing police work. Nevertheless, the 
outlines of recent major developments are fairly clear and at least some work 
goes beyond the level of pure speculation about effects. 

A variety of terms have been used to describe the central trend in modern 
police organization: professionalization, modernization, bureaucratization, ra- 
tionalization. The term professionalization is the one most often used, espe- 
cially in police circles, but it refers to a wide variety of developments in train- 
ing, selection, command and control, and general sophistication of planning, 
manpower allocation, etc. For purposes of these comments the most dis- 
tinctive meaning of these developments has been found in the progressive 
centralization of control over police operations and a correlative withdrawal 
of police from certain foiTns of community involvement. Concomitant with 
these developments have been dramatic changes in the efficiency of police 
operations, speed of dispatch, etc. There has also gradually developed a set 
of loose strategic concepts about the appropriate mission of the police in 
reducing crime and an often-expressed desire to raise police occupational 
status, not only by improved performance, but by clear specialization on the 
single function of crime control through the apprehension of offenders. The 
statistical figures on crimes known to the police and crimes cleared by arrest 
are often used as indicators of success. But perhaps the most important single 
emphasis is on preventive patrol, especially under the doctrines of aggressive 
patrol or saturation patrol. 

One important conclusion I should like to make out of this completely 
superficial discussion of police organization is this: these professional develop- 
ments are a priceless civic resource won after much struggle and against 
heavy resistance. For the first time they provide us with organizational in- 
struments sufficiently under central control to be rationally modifiable and 
adaptable to a variety of tasks. The issues now are the uses to which such 
instruments are to be put. It is precisely the "withdrawal" from the com- 
munity which characterizes these organizations which makes them available 
to help solve community conflicts. After all, the sheriff's posse that whipped 
the Selma marchers was undoubtedly better related to its "community" in 
the matter of civil rights than any police unit since. 

It is particularly important that the society not succumb to an irrational 
nostalgia for the mythical "old time cop." It is understandable that in times 
of stress we should imagine that in some golden age there was peace and, 
moreover, that that peace was brought about by wise and kindly men exer- 
cising a kindly control over the wayward. In addition, it is precisely authority 
exercised in this supposedly kindly but of course also personally arbitrary 


fashion that migrating Negroes are likely to hate most. To whites this may 
be the image of Officer Flanagan. To poor Negroes it is the image of Mr. 

There is a modem, and on the surface less nostalgic, version of the "Old 
Time Cop." This is the idea that policemen should be recruited from among 
the local populace because they will "know the culture." This is a highly 
doubtful notion for many reasons, the main one being that it is not possible 
to recruit policemen from those segments of the ghetto which are most prob- 
lematic. Recruit Negroes by all means, but no one should expect much more 
knowledge of the problems at issue on the part of Negro policemen than on 
the part of whites. 

All these considerations lead to a basic general conclusion. The modern 
police can not function simply as representatives of community culture — 
assuming it is coherent enough to be represented. They must stand aside 
from the culture to a large degree and function as community managers. 
This does not mean that they can function without knowledge of local cul- 
ture and social structure, especially in the ghetto, but this knowledge must 
come as the result of sophisticated training and must be used in the context 
of a self-conscious awareness of the management role of the police. Chief 
among the needed innovations in police training and deployment are devices 
designed to produce the requisite cultural knowledge and to overcome the 
culture shock experienced by policemen. No simple fonnula about recruiting 
from a supposed ghetto culture will do the trick. 

This is especially the case in periods of rapid social change in which police 
goals will have to change along with the rest of the society. Police recruit- 
ment must emphasize trainability and flexibility, the capacity to work in and 
run small teams with litde direct supervision, and the capacity to absorb and 
further complex organizational goals in rapidly changing circumstances. In 
short, after a transitional period of professionalizing police organizations it will 
be necessary to really professionalize policemen. 

Demands of the Present Situation: The Police as Monitors of Social Change 

Departmental policy and procedure must recognize that the police are 
presiding over a massive and disruptive historical change and that police 
action must be geared to a conception of the desirable outcome of that change 
process and not simply to concepts of "law enforcement as usual." In their 
role as community managers the police will have to participate more in the 
goal-setting functions of government. 

This involves them in "politics." But of course they are involved in poli- 
tics in one way or another anyhow. If they are to avoid being politically 
maneuvered into being hired oppressors by reactionary whites or manipu- 
lated targets by extremist Negro leaders, they will have to present themselves 
as detached and principled specialists in community order. As an example, 

when white pressure leads the city government to recommend the creation 
of dog units for use in the ghetto, a professional police chief should be pre- 
pared to testify that such a move would decrease rather than increase order 
and stability. 

Implications for Law Enforcement Practice 

The following focus will be on suggestions within the la\v enforcement 
function itself. Later I shall try to deal with the problem of possible shifts in 
the "service mix" which the police provide. The order of discussion is de- 
liberate. To reiterate, the basic service which the police provide to Negroes 
is protection and through that the extension of meaningful citizenship. 

It will be helpful to state my recommendations in the form of a few basic 
policy guidelines with some more specific suggestions and some interpretive 
discussion following them. The guidelines, like all such general statements, 
are simple and even trite. They flow, however, from the more complex ma- 
terial of the introduction and can perhaps be made less simple and trite by 
the more specific suggestions which follow them. 

Policy Guideline I: As community managers and monitors of social 
change, the police should enforce the law as vigorously as possible but short 
of the point where vigorous enforcement produces more strain than the 
system can stand. 

This of course means that the social and civic state of the ghetto is a 
legitimate concern of the police as well as the crime rate therein. Some 
implications of this guideline can be spelled out in terms of more specific 
choices and requirements. 

A. The choice of areas of concentration of enforcement effort. 

As previously mentioned, the ghetto is in need of security of person and 
property. This is the fundamental service performed by the police. They 
should not reduce efforts in this direction, especially in the area of inter- 
personal violence, although there are modifications possible in the organiza- 
tion and procedures used. The police can, however, reduce their efforts in 
the areas of enforcement involving "crimes without victims" such as prosti- 
tution and gambling. 

Since these latter enforcement activities are largely at the initiation of the 
police themselves, they do not ordinarily constitute a call for service from a 
citizen. Moreover, they constitute an "invasion" of ghetto social structure 
and a kind of gratuitous inter\'ention in activities which neither the ghetto 
resident nor the larger community are likely to see as a serious threat to 
public order. 

B. The choice between response to reported offenses and attempts to 
weaken the social formations which are seen to produce offenses. 

In many ways it is sound doctrine for the police to deal with crime "be- 
fore" it occurs. Unfortunately, the way such a doctrine is implemented may 
cause more harm than good. The most obvious case in point is the common 
practice of keeping pressure on street-comer groups and gangs. Practices 
vary greatly, of course, but in many cities a great deal of effort is put into 
"harassment" of groups of older teenagers and young male adults on the 
twin grounds that this keeps them off balance and also helps maintain the 
authority of the police. It is doubtful that there is much real payoff here 
in the apprehension of real offenders and there is much reason to believe that 
the hostility generated vastly outweighs any gain in "respect" for the police. 

Other preventive practices can be discussed under this rubric. Doctrines 
of aggressive patrol often give rise in high crime areas to verv- high frequencies 
of field interrogation and high frequencies of arrests. 

These interrogations and arrests may in specific cases be justified, but the 
high rates seem predicated on the assumption that the entire ghetto popula- 
tion is "crimogenic." In short, the entire ghetto population is sometimes 
treated like a gang. There are three consequences of this worth mentioning. 

1. There may be a high level of interference with the free passage of 
citizens who at least at that time are not involved in crime. 

2. Arrest records for minor offenses are so high that whole subpopu- 
lations, especially young males, come to see themselves as licked before 
they start; as outlawed from civil society before they have ever partici- 
pated. Precisely as educational and emplo)TTient opportunity for young 
Negroes expands, this relatively free use of arrest becomes the marginal 
difference betv\'een making it and not. The better things get in the 
ghetto, the more hostility such practices will generate. However, to some 
degree arrest frequencies are the result of the alternatives available to the 
police. This problem will be discussed later. 

3. This kind of police action fails to "shore up" the large majority of 
law-abiding citizens in the ghetto as much as is desirable. The sometimes 
undiscriminating conduct of police tends to drive the law-abiding and 
the law-violating together as allies against the police. This should be 
avoided at almost any cost. Not only does this destroy the social base 
for improved police relations, but it tends to discourage the very social 
developments it should be the main function of the public sector to en- 
courage — the development of more of a stake in conformity and more 
successful performance within the law. The Negro factory worker walk- 
ing home late at night from his job should be escorted, not interrogated. 

C. The choice of social locations of intervention. 

As a general matter, policemen police the streets or at least they police in 
the streets. No quarrel can be made with this in general. However, police 

manpower allocation strategies do not seem to be derived from any sophisti- 
cated analysis of just what social spaces need to be made safer. If we take as 
the main goal of police w^ork the production of safety rather than the appre- 
hension of offenders, then a beginning could be made on the needed strategies. 
It should be emphasized, however, that the police are not at fault here, since 
there has been utterly no attention given traditionally to these matters by 
social scientists. We have produced highly sophisticated analyses of the social 
structure of factories to help managers increase production and even more 
sophisticated analyses of consumer behavior to help advertisers increase sales. 
We have had almost no discussion, much less research, designed to help 
police produce public safety. What has been done has been done by the 
police themselves almost entirely. 

One of the major gains of modem police organization and professionaliza- 
tion is the development of actually and potentially much more sophisticated 
ideas of manpower allocation. But key questions remain unanswered. What 
are the ideal places for locating police? What are ghetto social patterns in de- 
tail so that the safety of ghetto residents can be more adequately assured? 
Should policemen ride busses late at night to protect late workers? Should 
there be many more local police posts — corner kiosks, etc. — along key 
routes? Are there ways of distributing the police so they can pay more atten- 
tion to the people they are sworn to protect and less to potential offenders? 
Is it really impossible to station police inside buildings, etc? 

Policy Guideline II: The police should pursue a policy of co-optation 
aimed at reducing their isolation as enforcers of order in the ghetto. 

This guideline could have been phrased in various ways. The basic thrust 
is to decrease the vulnerability of the police as the symbolic repressive agents 
of the society and also to enlist the police as sources of pressure on other 
agencies which now shrink from the "nasty" job of exerting authority. The 
concrete strategies will vary from place to place and depending upon the 
particular other agency or institutional sphere involved. I shall try to spell out 
a few examples of approaches with particularly crucial social units. 

A. Examples of co-optation procedures with respect to the legal system. 

Many police practices which are disruptive in the ghetto exist because of 

weak institutional supports for police authority in the United States. The 

police are likely to expand their operating authority to give themselves a 

"cushion," so to speak. 

1. The police should refuse to interrogate a suspect in the station un- 
less the suspect has counsel. They should refuse even if the suspect waives 
his right to counsel. Correlatively, the police should demand that social 
arrangements for the routine provision of counsel be developed. If this 

police insistence on due process should turn out to be illegal, then I 
suggest a substitute which will be discussed more generally later on. This 
is the Citizen Observer technique. If a suspect waives his rights or if 
counsel is unavailable, the police should enlist local citizens (paid by 
OEO?) as observers of interrogation. The police should initiate this 
program and advertise it fairly widely. They should especially try to 
enlist members of black activist groups for this purpose. 

2. The police should bend every effort to gain statutory and judicial 
support for police authority where it is legitimately exercised. Most par- 
ticularly, the courts should be much tougher on cases of physical resistance 
to the police. 

Some of the above may seem "hard-nosed" but it derives from some 
crucial considerations which have been partially discussed earlier. First, the 
American police take an incredible amount of "gufT" from the citizenry- — 
especially in high-crime ghetto-type areas. This guff is mainly verbal but oc- 
casionally physical. Second, while the society seems firmly committed to the 
social ideal of an insultable police, it does not seen so clear about an assaultable 
police. Nevertheless, the judicial attitude is often "You're a big man with 
weapons. Learn to take care of yourself out there." A quite inappropriate 
comparison is often made to the British police who through some magic are 
supposedly able to gain more compliance with less force. Much of the magic 
lies in the routine respect shown to police authority by the lower courts, even 
to the point of using testimony as to the conduct of the defendant toward the 
constable as an important criterion in deciding sentences within the available 
discretionary range. The cowboys-and-Indians orientation of many American 
courts has its limits. Of course there is much bootleg support for the police 
by the American legal system which occurs in the plea-bargaining process, etc., 
but its very bootleg nature means that the police must use semideviant means 
to get formal support. 

Third, American society has a long history of abandoning the police and, 
in effect, segregating them from the rest of the social order. The rest of the 
society does not want to get involved in the use of coercive authority and thus 
isolates those who must. This abandormient has been particularly pronounced 
in the case of the Liberal Intellectuals, who until recently either ignored the 
police or talked about "brutes in blue." Suddenly these Liberals' values (and 
interest, one must add) are threatened by disorder and the police are inun- 
dated by attention from the professors. 

Fourth, the most serious instance of withdrawal from law enforcement by 
any relevant social category has been the case of the legal profession. The 
situation is too well known to require detailed comment, but the seriousness 
of the situation as well as the exquisite irony of the current state of affairs is 
indexed by the recent recommendation of the President's Commission on 

Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice that it would be a good 
idea if all police departments had at least a part-time lawyer available. Things 
are changing, of course, but until recently criminal law ranked low in law 
schools; criminal defense practice ranked low in the profession, and law 
schools seemed quite unwilling to train police administrators. Recent changes 
should be very much encouraged. 

The role of the legal profession is even more crucial if we attempt a some- 
what more general summary of this whole discussion of police and the legal 
system. In the long run, substantive and procedural legality is one of the best 
defenses of the police as well as one of the best defenses from the police. 
Legality is the best overall normative base for the police in a time of conflict. 
But legality in the sense of adherence to norms of due process does not alone 
provide the police with the necessary social base. While the reciprocal changes 
mentioned above — more attention to due process by the police, more sup- 
port for police authority by the courts — point to a more secure relationship 
between the police and the formal legal system per se, it is not a sufficient 
social base for the police. The police need support, and the accompanying 
social rewards for restraint, from sources outside the state apparatus itself. 

Broadly conceived, the legal profession is the ideal linking or bridging 
group because of its involvement in the official apparatus and its independence 
from the state. Because of their increasingly crucial role in the creation of 
law as well as public opinion, the law schools and the organized Bar are the 
key organizational foci of involvement of the legal profession. Because of their 
multiple roles with respect to the law, lawyers are the key group in the "legal 
community" as opposed to simply the officially defined legal system. 

B. Examples of co-optation procedures with respect to social units outside 
the legal system. 

1. Following on the argument above, the police should make every 
effort to involve the legal profession in law enforcement, not only in the 
obvious ways of securing legal counsel for suspects and for the police 
themselves, but in the larger sense of participation of law schools and the 

2. The police should make every effort to avoid being placed in the 
position of hired "bully boys" by other social agencies — public or private 
— that operate in the ghetto. Thus if, for example, schools wish to avail 
themselves of police service they should be required to have representatives 
present and participating at every stage of the case so that it is clear that 
both agencies share in the imposition of authority. Too often in slum 
areas the police are visibly despised by social agency personnel and used 
as a "bogey man" with which to frighten, especially adolescents. The 
maintenance of order is a necessary accompaniment of the provision of 

The police are often accused of taking a "narrow" view of the complex 
processes of slum social change. Their view is not necessarily more narrow 
than that of other agencies, and much of it comes by being forced into a 
narrow function. For example, I have seen so-called detached workers 
glowing with gratification because they were able to gain rapport with 
"tough" gangs when all they did was constantly warn the boys that if 
they did not straighten out they would get "busted." The rapport of the 
worker is purchased by increasing hostility toward the police. 

3. The police should involve as many ghetto residents as possible in 
the role of Citizen Observer. This was previously discussed in connection 
with station interrogation but it applies much more generally. Observers 
should be involved in all phases of police operations — from patrol to 
interrogation to lock-up, etc. A local Citizens' Advisory Committee could 
be created from among the observers and not only manage the Citizen 
Observer program but assist the police with other problems as well. The 
program should be initiated by the police. Many departments have similar 
programs involving law students, journalists, or others as obsen^ers. These 
programs are not only excellent "public relations" for the police but also 
are ways for police administrators to exert control over the rank and file 
by raising the social visibility of police operations. 

Most such programs, however, are designed to relate police to the non- 
ghetto community. Needed in addition are programs designed to involve 
ghetto residents more closely. The police should explore the possibility of 
recruiting on a systematic basis Citizen Observers from the ghetto itself. 
A particularly good strategy would be for the police to request other 
agencies such as the Office of Economic Opportunity to provide funds for 
small payments to Citizen Obsei-vers. This ^vould help to recompense low- 
income ghetto residents who are working as \vell as to attract some of the 

The "mix" of observers should include the range of ghetto social 
types — stable workmen, traditional community leaders and professionals, 
unemployed men and, most crucially, members of the new Black Po\ver 
groups and Black Nationalists. 

Such a Citizen Observer program, if systematically developed and used, 
^vould serve several purposes. First, it would improve police social awareness 
of the range and variety of people in the ghetto, not by lectures on "brother- 
hood" or "subcultures," but by daily contact. Second, it would serve as a 
device for co-opting potentially hostile ghetto members into at least superficial 
contact with the law enforcement function. Third, it would again reduce the 
isolated visibility of the police as the alien source of coercion. 

Fourth, it would put the police in a favorable moral position with respect 

to the more extremist Negro leaders. By taking the initiative in asking to be 
obser\^ed, the police \vould steal the thunder from some of these extremists. 
Even should they refuse on the grounds that they do not want to be "co- 
opted" (ever)one reads the social science literature these days) so they can 
retain their revolutionary purity, it would be clearer to ghetto residents and 
potential followers that the extremist program is one of planned confrontation 
with the police rather than one of simple reduction of police "brutality." 

A fifth function servable by an observer program is that of introducing 
more restraint on police conduct, especially verbal conduct, toward the 
citizenry. The observers thus become an indirect arm of top police administra- 
tion. A sixth function would be to introduce new sources of communication 
into the ghetto about police operations in general as well as about specific 
incidents. These could be valuable antidotes to the wild rumors that some- 
times circulate about even the most legitimate police activities. 

Seventh, the development of such a program, especially if it were on a 
sizeable scale, would be a way of performing the "shoring-up" function men- 
tioned earlier. Most (though not necessarily all) of the observers would be re- 
cruited from among the law-abiding segments of the local populace. They 
would constitute a clear recognition by the police of the social worth of these 
segments. Such a program would also be a beginning in the direction of en- 
listing such persons, at least to some degree, on the side of law enforcement. 
As it is now, many such persons want to both have their cake and eat it. They 
want police protection but they also want to be anti-police. 

Eighth and finally, such a program might help further the process of racial 
integration within police departments themselves. While little is known sys- 
tematically, it is reasonable to believe that organizational inclusion of Negro 
officers has rarely led to much interpersonal integration. No intellectually 
sophisticated effort has been made to develop concepts of the ideal patterns 
of intradepartmental integration, but as a starter anything that reduces the 
sometimes high levels of interracial animosity within departments might be a 
good idea. Careful assignment of observers to uniracial and biracial police 
teams and work situations might be at least a start in that direction. 

While Policy Guideline II is phrased in terms of co-optation, many of the 
suggested procedures and functions might have been phrased in terms of the 
more traditional language of communication. This was not done because 
advice to "improve communication" has been plentiful and has rarely in- 
cluded, even in general terms, the goals of such improvement nor the social 
structural means which should be used. Nevertheless, there are some desirable 
procedures directly involved in law enforcement that can be seen as more 
purely communicative and less involved in actually creating new social struc- 
tures and roles. This need for improved communication and knowledge leads 
to the next policy guideline. 

Policy Guideline III: Communication to police about the ghetto should be 
improved, as should communication between police and ghetto residents. 

In some ways this is the most trite and shopworn of the guidelines. This 
is so, not because truly efTective programs for improving communication are 
widespread, but because the talk about communication is so common and 
communication often is seen as a magical specific that can substitute for ef- 
fective reorganization and action. As a general thesis the basic thrust of the 
preceding section can be repeated. Communication is likely to be best when 
it takes place as part of stable and continuing social relationships such as the 
Citizen Observer program. In many ways communication is best when com- 
munication per se is not the manifest aim of a program. Many police-com- 
munity relations programs do not significantly afTect the relational systems 
which in fact involve police and community, and therefore they are less ef- 
fective than they might be. 

Because of the varied literature on this aspect of the problem, I shall not 
attempt much in the way of detail here. The more specific comments will be 
divided into two areas: communication to the police and communication 
between police and ghetto. 

A. Problems of communication to the police about the ghetto. 

Much effort is currently being expended attempting to acquaint the police 
with minority group cultures and attitudes and with the special problems of 
policing, especially in Negro areas. To my knowledge, most of these educa- 
tional programs have not been really well evaluated or even researched at all. 
Such educational programs sufTer from a number of serious handicaps — 
shortness of time, removal from daily operations, the difficulty of translating 
new "knowledge" into effective procedures, the presence in influential posi- 
tions of command personnel who subtly or otherwise punish users of "new- 
fangled" ideas. Nevertheless, the general effort must be continued and even 

Formal educational programs should be expanded, not only because their 
content is needed, but because they define policing as a sophisticated and "in- 
tellectual" pursuit in a complex modern society. Such programs should ideally 
be associated with colleges and universities, especially when conducted for 
command personnel. This would help break down the social isolation of the 
police from the academic and/or intellectual segments of the larger 

These kinds of formal educational programming overlook, however, many 
possible techniques for improving communication about the ghetto and its 
problems. Some of these other techniques can be briefly referred to here. 
More detailed exposition would require more time and certainly more knowl- 
edge of specific local details. 


1. The use of white-Negro relations within police departments as 
channels of communication. As mentioned previously, "integrated" de- 
partments seem characterized by much estrangement between white and 
Negro officers. Perhaps something like "T-Group" programs across racial 
lines would be helpful, at least in communicating more effectively to 
whites what it is like to be a Negro in modern American society. Other 
more sophisticated uses of integrated teams, etc., might be devised. 

2. Police departments could require that as a condition of promotion 
all new sergeants live for some short period with "host families" in the 
ghetto. If done on a regularized basis, this would also help with problems 
of changing the attitudes of ghetto residents toward policemen. Host 
families could be recompensed out of police training budgets or some 
other source. 

3. Policemen — perhaps mainly new sergeants who are a critical 
group — could be attached temporarily as part of their training to social 
service agencies — public or private — serving ghetto populations. This 
would acquaint them not only with the complexity of ghetto social life but, 
perhaps even more importantly, with the aims and efforts of other service 

Suggestions such as the above lead naturally to the second half of Guide- 
line III, communication between police and ghetto residents. 

B. Problems of communication between police and ghetto residents. 

Here, of course, it is possible to go far afield. Suffice it to say that almost 
everything police do in or to any population is "communication" in the sense 
that it conveys important symbolic content even if intended to simply do a 
job. It is not my intention to cover the range of police operations from a 
communication perspective. Neither is it my intention to discuss the variety 
of devices such as meetings with local groups, etc., which have been developed 
by police around the countr\'. As is the case with formal educational pro- 
grams, these procedures have rarely been evaluated systematically or even 
studied carefully. Moreover, it is not clear what the consequences for such 
programs of the newly emerging Black Nationalist and Black Power move- 
ments will be. 

My only suggestion here is in a very ordinary but, I believe, significant 
area: Simple improvement of the level of courtesy with which police ap- 
proach and deal with ghetto residents would pay big dividends. Included 
in this courteous discourse would be much more explanation of the rationale 
behind specific police actions, e.g., field interrogations, etc. 

On this somewhat banal note I shall end this general section on impli- 

cations for law enforcement and turn to the problem of the "service mix" 
provided by the police. 

Implications for an Increase in Supportive Services 

In the introduction to these comments I mentioned the negative conse- 
quences for the image of police which flo\v from the fact that methods of 
social control and social integration have generally shifted from the more 
obviously coercive to a complex mixture of distributive activities, persuasion, 
and economic sanctions. The police come then to seem, even within the realm 
of state activity, exceptional and strange. For loose discussion purposes we 
can say that the police have come to be identified almost entirely with the 
coercive function of the state and isolated from involvement in the "sup- 
portive" functions performed by the modern welfare state. This distinction 
between coercion and support is hard to make consistently because of the 
problem of specifying who the clientele of the police are. The coercion of 
person A may be socially and emotionally supportive of person B. 

Another social change is relevant here. Without attempting a sophisticated 
analysis of recent histor)', there are many signs that all segments of the 
populace are much more acutely aware of their formal rights and more in- 
sistent that they be respected. Recent Supreme Court decisions may indi- 
rectly contribute by making the populace more rights-conscious and less willing 
to let the police function more broadly as general representatives of "moral," 
as opposed to more narrowly legal, order. Paradoxically, it seems as though 
the increased power of the state is accompanied by a decreased power of the 
police. The public as a whole seems less willing than formerly to accept in- 
formal dispute-settling and conflict-mediating activities on the part of the 
police, or indeed police direction in any matter in which the legal basis for 
police action is not clear. Another way of saying the same thing is to say that 
increasingly police are required by popular attitude either to make a formal 
arrest or to take no action at all in a situation. 

Given this situation, attempts to change the ser\dce "mix" provided by the 
police in a more supportive direction may run into serious popular and even 
legal difficulties. Clearly the need is for activities that do not run the risk of 
increasing the visibility of police as agents of coercion. 

Policy Guideline IV: Police should increase the amount of supportive ser- 
vice that they perform. 

This is a far more complex area than those which have already been 
discussed, and specific recommendations are harder to make without much 
more qualification than is appropriate for this document. Nevertheless, it is 
possible to divide discussion here into three roughly distinct areas: the per- 
formance of "traditional" or customary nonenforcement or semienforcement 
services, the development of routinized large-scale services of a more support- 


ing or "helping" nature which are also highly visible, and development of the 
police in the direction of a generalized "public safety" or protection service 
with police as a kind of generalized "ombudsman" for the poor. 

A. The performance of traditional or customary nonenf or cement or semi- 
enforcement services. 

Interestingly enough, we do not know very much about the actual pattern 
of ser\-ices the police do provide. Clearly, however, they have traditionally 
pro\ided a wide variety of sendees which are either unrelated to enforcement 
or only tangentially so. One recommendation would be that professionalizing 
departments be very careful about reducing these services in order to con- 
centrate on crime control per se. Even today in highly professional depart- 
ments much of the work of units such as patrol is what the men sometimes 
call "Mickey Mouse" services, e.g., cats in trees, lonely widows with vivid 
imaginations. Police operations analysts should study the causes and conse- 
quences of such requests for service with an eye to developing a more positive 

B. The development of routinized large-scale services of a supportive or 
"helping" nature which are at the same time highly visible. 

A classic example here is ambulance service. It would be nice if every 
American community had a really efficient ambulance service and even nicer 
if the police could provide it. The intent here is to build into police opera- 
tions on a routine basis some of these helping functions. As police work and 
other social services are presently organized, however, this may be difficult. In 
many areas, e.g., counseling of new migrants or helping youth, it is more 
sensible for the police to work in a multiagency setting. 

C. The development of the police in the direction of a more generalized 
"public safety" or protection service, with police as a kind of generalized 
"ombudsman" for the poor. 

Recent suggestions for changes in the ser\'ice "mix" provided by the police 
seem to indicate directions of development rather different from those indi- 
cated immediately above. The President's Commission idea of the Community 
Service Agent is one major example. Nowhere have these newer ideas been 
formalized fully, so it is necessary to react in a rather unsystematic fashion. 
I should like to do so under two separate headings: the role of the police as 
a referral source in the solution of personal and family problems, and the role 
of the police as processers of complaints involving other public service agencies. 

Before proceeding with the discussion of material under these two head- 
ings, it is helpful to back up a bit and reconsider another of the social changes 
mentioned in the introduction to these comments. This is the change from 
traditional community politics and structure to ones based much more on large 


formal organizations. These organizations are the characteristic systems of 
our time, so to speak, and two areas of organizational activity are particularly 
relevant for the problem of police-community relations in the ghetto: or- 
ganizations as resources for the solution of personal and family problems, and 
organizations as providers of physical services and regulators of the quality 
of physical ser\'ices. 

The isolation and specialization of the police of \\hich we spoke earlier has 
been accompanied by the development of an elaborate congeries of formal 
organizations whose services are relevant to ghetto life. The broad distinction 
between those focusing on personal-social problem-solving and those focusing 
on regulation and the provision of physical services is very rough, but useful, 
especially since many of the former are private whereas the latter are public. 
Moreover, suggestions for change in police practices will differ for the two 

1. Organizations involved in the solution of personal and family 

One of the obvious anomalies in the organization of social services in 
American cities is that the many organizations possessing resources for the 
supportive solution of personal problems have ven' limited access to 
the population (s) ^vith the problems, Avhile organizations having access to 
these populations have very limited resources for the solution of the prob- 
lems encountered. The police are of course preeminent in this latter 

Another important consideration here is the fact that the problem- 
solving agencies exist in such multiplicity and confusion that even where a 
potential client wants to become an actual one, he is often deterred from 
doing so. This problem of lack of access is especially pronounced among 
the poor. 

One obvious, and I think crucial, suggestion here, is for the police to 
function as referral sources to link problems with resources. Police can be 
trained, I believe, to make rough initial diagnoses of many problem situa- 
tions and make reasonably satisfactoiy initial referrals, especially if some 
combined referral point is available. The police are obviously not the 
only agency ^vhose referral function can be improved, and there are many 
programs designed specifically to improve the referral process. Our con- 
centration here is on the police, however. 

Systematic involvement of the police in the referral process should have 
several main features and could conceivably have several main results. 
As to the main features, the following seem foremost : 

a. The referral should be obligatory on the agency involved. 
The agency should be required at minimum to do a preliminary 
analysis and report results to the police. 


b. The referral should be voluntaiy on the person (s) involved, al- 
though it would be legitimate for the police to use infoimation on past 
refusal or unsatisfactory relationship with the social agency as grounds 
to arrest in the next instance where law violation is involved, e.g., re- 
peated domestic disputes with threatened or actual violence. This 
procedure is of course much like that followed (ideally) with juveniles 
in many departments and, of course, raises some of the same issues of 

2. Organizations involved in the provision of physical and/or regula- 
tory services. 

A wide variety of agencies have the responsibility for the provision of 
general physical services and/or regulating the "physical" conditions of 
life in the ghetto. The most crucial of these agencies are public, e.g., 
housing inspection units, street and sanitation departments, and weights 
and measures inspection units. 

Ghetto residents report a wide variety of dissatisfactions with these 
agencies, with the focus perhaps especially on housing code enforcement 
units. One of the reasons for the dissatisfaction is that the poor often have 
no eflfective way of bringing pressure to bear on these agencies. The tra- 
ditional methods of party political activity do not seem effective. The 
newer methods of grass-roots community organization seem thus far to be 
also of limited effect. 

One sensible suggestion here is to make the police the generalized repre- 
sentative of the ghetto citizen in his struggle with these agencies. The 
police would thus receive process and follow-up complaints involving such 
agencies. This is tantamount to making the police the Ombudsman for 
the poor. This is in many w-ays an attractive suggestion, but it is necessary 
to warn against many pitfalls. 

A few general points can be made. First, the use of police to process com- 
plaints could easily make the police more vulnerable to attack and even more 
the target of hostility. There is, after all, no real assurance that police in- 
volvement here will in fact improve the level of city services as they affect the 
ghetto poor. Thus the police could be held responsible for a wide range of 
service "failures" from \\hich they are at least dissociated at present. 

Second, city services in general need improvement and rationalization and 
more effective programming, especially in serving Negro lower-class areas. 
The required changes should be approached directly by city and state govern- 
ment. The capacit)- of the urban bureaucracies to resist and undermine 
change is so highly developed that no palliatives in the way of involving the 
police should be provided which will prevent real change. 

Third, it is not cleair to me how in fact the police would be able to "en- 
force" their wishes with respect to citizen complaints. Would this not deeply 

involve the police in the bureaucratic in-fighting which is so characteristic 
in the area? 

Finally, I should confess that my caution here is partly due to objections 
of the sort raised above, but also partly due to my real lack of knowledge of 
current practices and future possibilities in this sector of possible police 

Implications for Police Organization 

The basic suggestion I have for change in police organization follows 
closely the recommendations of the President's Commission on Law Enforce- 
ment and the Administration of Justice. The basic concept is that of the Area 
Team which would be responsible for the public safety and order and most 
operations in a delimited area of the so-called ghetto. 

Teams would be composed mainly of detectives supplemented by Youth 
Officers, some patrol personnel, community relations people, etc. The basic 
operational idea is to reduce the over-reliance on patrol, increase the refine- 
ment of police information-gathering so as to reduce the level of field interro- 
gation, etc., and to create more of a sustained but less abrasive "presence" of 
the police. 

Internally the team might have some specialization, e.g., between burglary 
and robbery men, but this should not be overstressed. The functionally spe- 
cialized divisions within detective units would still be maintained for opera- 
tions elsewhere and for dealing with particularly "sticky" cases. 

Ideally this sort of team would spend much more time within ghetto so- 
ciety than do patrol people. One main function of such a unit is coordinative, 
especially in the flow of information concerning the social state of their area. 
Perhaps devices such as frequent conferences, etc., would not only generate 
better information flow but would actually see that some of it was used in- 
stead of bottled up in "beat books" ! 

This concept implies somewhat greater decentralization than at least some 
departments now display. Decentralization is an increasingly "good" word in 
police circles. It is important therefore to recall the important values of 
centralization alluded to earlier. Centralization has many values in efficiency 
and control and especially in maintaining the sense of organizational and 
occupational separateness and morale necessary to minimize corruption, bru- 
tality, and other forms of malpractice. Many modem organizations have been 
faced with similar problems (e.g., the military, correctional institutions, mental 
hospitals) and they have at least made attempts to develop new combinations 
of central control coupled with decentralized initiative and inter-rank 

Problems of control are central and complex. These team concepts pre- 

suppose a police controllable largely through training, commitment to mission, 
and involvement in local teams that change personnel slowly enough to main- 
tain an esprit de corps. Present control techniques such as crime clearance 
rates, response time measures, and arrest quotas presuppose low commitment 
and lack of subgroup morale. 

Thus along with such a system would have to come quite different tech- 
niques of supervision, communication, reporting, and control. They could not 
all be detailed here even if known, but the general thrust should be toward a 
more collaborative effort with more conferencing and more involvement of 
superiors as guides, leaders, and consultants rather than as merely order-givers. 

In many departments there would be serious problems of implementation. 
Some of the most resistant might well be those which are by many criteria good 
ones. Especially in those where centralized professionalization is only a recent 
achievement, suggestions of the sort presented here and in the President's 
Commission report will seem like a return to the "bad old days." If "Officer 
Flanagan" means "Mr. Charlie" to many Negroes, it means "police scandal" 
to many professional police administrators. 

One last suggestion may be superfluous, though I doubt it. It has to do 
with the general spirit in which the police are approached. Police work is an 
honorable estate. It's practitioners should be honorably approached. 

The most sophisticated national survey of police-community relations 
programs and problems was prepared for the President's Commission on Law 
Enforcement and Administration of Justice. In reviewing a number of pro- 
grams, the survey lists weaknesses that affected one or more of the programs 
then in existence. In no particular order these are: noncommitment of the 
top police command; use of community relations units solely to respond to 
crises; serious budget problems; problems of organizational placement and 
lack of direct-line involvement; weaknesses in the District Committee system; 
hasty implementation and the tendency to mechanically copy other programs; 
stress on public relations or selling the police image: failure to reach the 
"grass roots." 

Examples of Program Pitfalls 

The President's Commission Survey cited above contains fairly detailed 
descriptions of several community relations programs. It seemed useful to 
conclude this paper by describing three rather ambitious programs differing 
in nature but having in common the fact that they all have experienced 

The first example is the San Francisco Police-Community Relations Unit. 


It is described both by the President's Commission Survey and in a 1968 publi- 
cation by Jerome H. Skolnick.^ 

This was a special unit which was organized after considerable political 
pressure in the city and which enjoyed the full support of the Chief of Police. 
It was, however, largely opposed by the rank-and-file policemen. In the 
course of its operations, the unit became isolated from the rest of the force 
and its work was poorly integrated with the rest of the department's activities. 

According to Skolnick, the unit did, however, develop good working rela- 
tions with the several police-relevant minorities. Indeed, this developed to 
the point where Skolnick describes the unit as becoming a kind of "ombuds- 
man" for minorities. In the process, the unit's members and director became 
unusually sympathetic to the needs of minorities and thus found itself caught 
in the middle in police-minority conflicts. This in-between position became 
particularly clear when the unit began receiving — and attempting to act 
upon — complaints against the police. This, of course, made conflict with 
"regular" police even sharper. 

Correlative with these developments, the local (and national) political 
climates changed and the Chief of Police found himself under increasingly 
severe pressure to change the unit's operations. The pressure came from 
several sources; but Skolnick singles out a police unionization movement led 
by an extremely conservative union leader as especially significant. The unit 
was ultimately partly reorganized and its director was squeezed out of the 

The major implications of this description seem to be that such specialized 
units should not be left in such an organizationally exposed position; that a 
specialized unit can become a focus for police animosity unless great efforts 
are made to improve community relations attitudes generally; that strong 
political support is needed to sustain such pioneering efforts; and, finally, 
that police-community relations should 7iot take on the complaint-processing 
function. In order to avoid this last difficulty, however, it will be necessary 
for the department to have an effective complaint-handling system. 

The second example of program pitfalls is the North City Congress Police- 
Community Relations Program of North Philadelphia.^ This was a thirty- 
month long program. Major elements were district committees, police institute 
sessions involving some 1,300 officers, community workshops involving some 
4,900 residents, and inter-group sessions attended by a mixture of 2,300 police 

' The President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of 
Justice, A National Survey of Police and Community Relations, Field Surveys V 
(Washington, D. C: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1967); J. H. Slotnick, 
The Police and the Urban Ghetto. Research Contributions of the American Bar 
Association, No. 3 (Chicago: American Bar Association, 1968). 

'^ North City Congress Police-Community Relations Program: Final Report 
(Philadelphia: North City Congress, 1969). 


and local residents. Other activities included in-school workshops and a wide 
variety of other meetings. The program also included a research unit which 
carried out an evaluation of the program. 

The program was extremely complex, and unlike the case with the third 
example, documentation of the effort and outcome is great. As a consequence, 
summary of the program is far more difficult. 

Because of the significance of the program and the pessimism of conclu- 
sions drawn, the final report of the program should be read by anyone setting 
out on the police-community relations path. The report concludes that the 
program failed and that it did so because the mechanisms used — based on 
"community organization" theory — could not meaningfully affect the power 
imbalance that produces the problem of police-community relations in the 
first place. 

Two major specific areas of failure are identified. The community com- 
mittees did not persist generally after the end of the program. Thus, the ef- 
fort to create a permanent structure in the community did not succeed. More 
significantly, however, the report concludes that attempts to change police 
attitudes failed. The police participants did not seem generally to value the 
training. This was especially true of the white officers. 

Perhaps the most general conclusion of the authors of the report is the 

Correcting the police-community power imbalance is crucial in any hopes for im- 
proved police-community relations. And in the absence of fairly strenuous social 
change, this imbalance cannot be corrected without the allocation of some authority 
over police action to the community. There must be some form of "community 
control" over Departmental policy-making, and particularly over District policy, 
procedures and personnel.^ 

The conclusions clearly indicate the disillusionment of the program staff. 
They also indicate the shift from a civil rights movement orientation to 
a more "militant" one. In a sense, this program and the Washington, D. C, 
Pilot Precinct Project which will be discussed next indicate different periods 
in the history of local politics in large-city black ghettos. 

The conclusions drawn in the North City Congress report will appeal to 
readers of the report differently, depending on their ideological bents. Some 
program features are open to criticism, however, even from the more routine 
point of view of the mechanics of program implementation. 

The most general criticism is in the approach to the police. Through no 

fault of the program, support by key middle-level command was lacking even 

though the program had at least rhetorical support from top command. 

Moreover, it seems from the report that program staff were not particularly 

' Ibid., p. 86. 

knowledgeable about police nor were they likely to be identifiable as sympa- 
thetic to police viewpoints. 

Ironically, the North City Congress effort seems to have been formed by 
a rather more "radical" viewpoint and to have ended with a more "conserva- 
tive" result as compared with the next example which seems to have had 
somewhat more of a "police-oriented" viewpoint but, thus far at least, seems 
to have set in motion more "radical" change. 

The third example is the Pilot Precinct Project instituted in Washington, 
D. C, with an eighteen-month grant from the Office of Economic 

The project had several major components. The most innovative was the 
idea of a Precinct Citizens' Board. The political thrust of this part of the 
proposal is indicated by the following: (a) the board would be representative 
of all the people of the precinct; (b) the board would not be handpicked by 
the "establishment" but would be formed by methods suggested by residents 
of the precinct, i.e., through a general election or whatever means would 
guarantee a really representative board; (c) the success of the project would 
be absolutely dependent on the development of a good relationship between 
the board, the Metropolitan Police Department, and the staff of the Pilot 
Precinct Project.* One of the criteria of success of the project was stated to 
be whether board members felt they had real influence. The Citizens' Board 
would "carry the weight of organized, representative public opinion." 

This conception of the Precinct Citizens' Board then is quite different 
from the neighborhood committees described in the North City Congress pro- 
gram. Indeed, it seems a step in the direction of "community power" as 
recommended in the final report of that project. The dilemmas of "reformist" 
devolution of power are illustrated, however, by the statement that the 
Precinct Citizens' Board would not have direct control over police operations. 
Its members would not be able to give orders to police officers, and it would 
not have the power to hire and fire policemen.^ 

Other aspects of the program included the idea of Satellite Service Cen- 
ters - — the number, nature, function, location, and staffing of which would 
be determined by the Precinct Citizens' Board. Funds were available, in addi- 
tion, for other programs in the precinct, the nature of which was to be deter- 
mined by the board. 

A police training program was included and was to have been influenced 
by board decisions. It was conceived, however, as more directly determined 
by the project staff and, indeed, was conducted systematically even though 
after almost nine months no Precinct Citizens' Board was in existence. 

*The Pilot Precinct Project (Washington, D.G.: Corporation Counsel, Govern- 
ment of the District of Columbia, no date). 

° The President's Commission, op. cit.; Slotnick, op. cit. 

The Precinct Citizens' Board idea was central to the whole program con- 
cept, and its fate has so far been central to project histor}-. Description of 
outcome thus far will focus on the process of creating the board. Training, 
with one interruption of four months, has proceeded and some impressionistic 
assessment of "success" can be made. 

The history of the project to date can be largely written as the history of 
one example of the peculiar politics of police-community relations projects 
in a large urban black population. The history available here can only be 
sketchy. A full histor>' of the project is being prepared and should be ex- 
tremely valuable. Much of the information used here comes from an interview 
with a former participant and should be regarded as quite provisional. 

The first step in project implementation was selection of the precinct. The 
aim was a precinct selected by citizens rather than the "power structure." A 
Precinct Selection Committee of thirty-nine members was appointed by the 
mayor to make the choice. Five members resigned soon after committee 
formation and were replaced by six youths drawTi from the eligible precincts. 

Precinct selection criteria included many factors : crime rates, measures of 
povert)', size of youth population, complaints against police, receptivity of 
police to the project, and receptivity of citizens. 

These last two criteria indicate the uniqueness of this project — par- 
ticularly the criterion of receptivity of the police. This indicates a quite dif- 
ferent approach to police than seems implicit in the North City Congress 
project. Police receptivity was measured by a direct vote of police officers on 
whether they wanted the project in their precinct. Citizen receptivity was 
assessed by a series of hearings at which those present voted. In all six precincts 
a majority voted in favor of the project. In the Thirteenth Precinct which was 
finally selected by the committee, only two people voted — both in favor. 
The rather dry language of one document indicates something of the future 
course of events. "It may be that the other people present at the hearing 
\vere afraid to vote because an opponent of the project was standing by the 
ballot box with a lighted match in his hand, stating in strong teiTns his 
opinion of anyone who would vote for a project like this."^ 

After precinct selection, the next steps were to be taken by the project 
staff. These included meetings between staff and resident groups and an 
intensive public information campaign. This phase ^vas to have concluded 
with formation of a Planning Committee which would come "from all the 
groups and neighborhoods" of the precinct. This Planning Committee, in 
turn, was to create the conditions for election of the Precinct Citizens' Board. 

Approximately nine months were consumed before the necessary com- 
munity election could be held. Early attempts at creating a working coalition 
'^ Corporation Counsel, op. cit., p. 5. 


of community groups were frustrated by the opposition of what are described 
as "militants." An earlier coalition of older, more "middle-class" blacks was 
opposed by the "militants" who were supported by influential leaders of the 
local O.E.O. agency, civil rights groups, and others. 

Some three to four months of negotiation followed, during which the 
police precincts were consolidated into districts in an administrative reorgani- 
zation. An attempt to organize an election was unsuccessful during this time 
because the project stafT was accused of engineering the consolidation to 
undermine the political strength of the opposition. Another attempt to hold 
an election came to naught when the "militants" threatened to prevent an 
election and to disrupt planning and election meetings. 

At this point the project staff suggested proceeding without an election, 
but the city government said to try again. In this next try the Pilot Precinct 
Project StafT undertook to see that meetings would not be "packed" and to 
guarantee the personal safety of persons attending the planning meeting. A 
planning meeting was finally held at which police were present to verify cre- 
dentials and prevent disorder. At that meeting some twelve of the approxi- 
mately seventy present attempted to disrupt and partially did so. 

Finally, however, the "militants" agreed to participate in election planning 
and an election date was set. At this point the project director resigned, thus 
removing himself as an election issue. The election was held; the "militants" 
gained control of the Citizens' Board and an opponent of the project was 
elected board chairman. 

Despite this seeming victory for the "opposition," the board has formulated 
what has been described as a good proposal for continuation of the project. 
The project's political vicissitudes continue, however, at other levels. The 
Precinct Citizens' Board is now fighting for itself and for the project against 
a Congressional investigation. Moreover, the funding agency has renewed 
funding for only thirty days pending . . . what? The city government backs 
the project completely. 

Meanwhile, the actual training sessions involving precinct police and local 
citizens were undertaken. Training was interrupted in April, 1969; it resumed 
in September of 1969, and continues at present. To date approximately 375 
officers and citizens have participated. Training is on duty time, with the 
project paying for overtime of other officers to maintain coverage. Training 
sessions have emphasized role-playing, small-group discussion and confronta- 
tion involving police, and "street dudes" and "young militant" blacks. 

As yet there is no formal study of the impact of the training or other parts 
of the program. There is evidence, however, that the training program was 
ultimately well received by the police. When the director resigned, a letter 
commending him is reported to have received over 200 signatures- — before 
someone tore it up! Initial reception by rank-and-file officers was suspicious. 


and training sessions uncovered the usual resistances though they proceeded 
fairly smoothly. Cooperation by middle-level command was described as good, 
perhaps due to the fact that the project director was well known to the 
lieutenants and sergeants, having spent a great deal of time on the streets with 
them. The support of the city government and the placement of key project 
staff as employees of the Department of Public Safety may have helped here. 
In addition to the director, other stafT members had had experience with 
police (some had been policemen) and have been described as critical but 

Feedbacks between the training part of the project and the political 
process involved in election of the Precinct Citizens' Board must have been 
complex, but only two have been described. The interruption in the training 
previously mentioned was caused by the "disruption" in the political process. 
In another instance, an achievement of the training program seems to have 
created an embarrassment to anti-project forces in the precinct. 

Members of the Spanish-speaking community demanded Spanish-speak- 
ing officers. Some 150 officers volunteered for an intensive six-week language 
and cultural immersion program that was received very well both by the offi- 
cers and by the Spanish-speaking citizenry. The success of this special pro- 
gram seems to have operated to demonstrate the good faith of the project as 
well as its ability to deliver a product of value. As a consequence, the anti- 
project black leaders were confronted with demands from their constitutents 
to moderate their opposition. 

It is difficult to compare the Washington and North City projects, par- 
ticularly since the Washington project is still going on and information is 
so sketchy. It is helpful to hazard some comparative interpretation, however. 

An obvious interpretation would be that the North City project had 
trouble with the police while the Washington, D. C, project had trouble 
with the community. This would be rather short-sighted. The "troubles" 
with the community in Washington, D. C, may represent a necessary and 
constructive political process of creating sufficient local awareness and political 
"texture" that a meaningful community voice could be developed. Programs 
that include local citizens' bodies and do not expect a virulent local politics 
are not likely to succeed, particularly in the larger cities. From this point of 
view (and from a great distance), the "disruptive" concerns of the "mili- 
tants" and the seeming short-sightedness of their allies may take on a different 
light. The business of politics after all is to present alternatives and to create 
the collective vehicles for meaningful participation in decision-making. 

It seems clear that the Washington project dealt with the police in a 
much more sophisticated way. This stems from the nature of the project staff 
as previously mentioned, from the support of the city government, and from 

a viewpoint that defined individual policemen as among those who should 
have a voice in the location of the project. 

There are also other elements that seem significant about the Washington 
program. Washington, D. C, is after all demographically a predominantly 
black city with a black mayor. Police-community relations politics will surely 
be different in such a setting. 

Finally, the structure of the program in Washington seems to have been 
sociologically more sophisticated. The selection of a single precinct made 
a more manageable unit. As the final report of the North City Congress 
project points out. North Philadelphia was simply too large. Moreover, the 
mode of selecting police participants from different districts and different imits 
meant that there was little sense of organizational commonality among them. 

We can conclude with one very serious problem in both projects — the 
problem of short-term grant support. The threat of fund withdrawal or 
nonrenewal hangs over these programs like the proverbial sword of Damocles. 
This is hardly the appropriate fiscal basis for stable, long-term social change. 



Part I 

Two years beyond the city riots of 1967 and the report about them by the 
National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, the effect of the mass media 
on such disorders is still under intense debate. There is no great risk in pre- 
dicting that as long as unrest persists, those who presume to "inform and 
educate" the public about such disorder through "fair and courageous journal- 
ism" are unlikely to win popularity prizes. 

The terms encased in quotation marks above are used advisedly, for they 
are borrowed right out of the so-called Kerner Commission Report and lie at 
the heart of the two major criticisms it leveled at news media coverage (par- 
ticularly television) of the 1967 urban riots. We shall deal with those criticisms 
shortly, but it should first be acknowledged and understood that by no means 
all of the public accepts the Kerner Commission's underlying presumption 
that to inform and educate the people about the ills of society are proper 
missions of the news media. To inform, yes, but to educate implies something 
more. And while the modem journalistic fraternity almost unanimously ac- 
cepts this dual notion of its mission, there is ample evidence that large seg- 
ments of the populace not only reject that presumption, but resent it. Some, 
of course, do not even wish to be informed of unpleasantries. 

As for "fair and courageous journalism," in such circumstances, there 
obviously is no such thing except by one's own definition. A society that has 
turned a condition of light polarization into a heated cliche of politics is 
hardly in a mood to accept any individual or group definition of those 
terms. What is courageous for Senator McGovern is clearly unfair on Vice 
President Agnew's front page or tube, and vice versa. One can magnify that 
generalization to a number of powers when applying it to sensitive racial 
matters covered by the Kerner study's Chapter 15, which deals with highly 
visible news media, their effect on the riots, and what they ought to be doing 
about them. 

Well, what is their effect? And well, what ought the media to be doing 
about riots and other civil explosions? 

The answer to the first of these questions is that nobody knows, and the 


answer to the second depends upon the prejudices of the respondent. Take 
the first : 

"The question is far reaching and a sure answer is beyond the range of 
presently available scientific techniques," said the Commission at the outset of 
Chapter 15. "Our conclusions and recommendations are based upon sub- 
jective as well as objective factors ; interviews as well as statistics ; isolated ex- 
amples as well as general trends." 

Or, if you prefer, "Tonight I've raised questions. I've made no attempt 
to suggest the answers," said Vice President Agnew at the conclusion of his 
now-famous Des Moines treatise on television news. "The answers must come 
from the media men." 

Those media men, who must answer the second question — How do you 
cover riots and such? - — may search vainly for guidance between such highly- 
charged rhetorical questions-suggesting-no-answers as this one from the Vice 
President : 

"How many marches and demonstrations would we have if the marchers 
did not know that the ever-faithful TV cameras would be there to record their 
antics for the next news show?" (Emphasis mine. ) 

And conclusions like this one from the Commission : 

We believe it would be imprudent and even dangerous to downplay coverage 
in the hope that censored reporting of inflammatory incidents somehow will 
diminish violence. 

All this is not meant to provide "cop-out" or apology for the media, whose 
sins are legion, but to suggest the tormenting ambivalences that beset anyone 
— inside the trade or out^ — who attempts to recommend a firm course for 
newsmen to follow in the performance of whatever their duty might be, a 
certain already-noted ambivalence surrounding even that. 

The Kemer Commission understandably got caught in a number of such 
internal conflicts, therefore, and this greatly reduced the value of its sug- 
gestions. For example, having judged that it might even be dangerous to 
censor reporting of inflammatory incidents, the Commission noted, with 
obvious approval, that participants at its Poughkeepsie conference "admitted 
that live television coverage via helicopter of the 1965 Watts riot had been 
inflammatory, and network news executives expressed doubts that television 
would ever again present live coverage of a civil disorder." In the future, it 
was suggested, they would view and edit (not censor?) taped or filmed 
sequences before broadcasting them. Yet it was the editing of tape that 
brought such criticisms of TV coverage of the Chicago convention, the next 
mass incident of civil disorder beyond the urban riots of 1967 and those that 
followed Martin Luther King's assassination in April, 1968. 


Vice President Agnew said : 

Film of provocations of police that was available never saw the light of day 
while the film of a police response which the protesters provoked was shown to 
millions. Another network showed virtually the same scene of violence from three 
separate angles without making clear it was the same scene. 

Indeed, the entire question of press-police relations provides every analyst 
of civil disorder a full range of ambivalent feelings. The Kerner Commission 
again was no exception and therefore had little help to offer the media in this 
intensely important aspect of news coverage. One reads the Kerner Commis- 
sion Report in this respect with mounting frustration. To overdigest it perhaps 
does the Report injustice, but the overall impression is this : 

First it suggests, quite correctly, that ghetto residents look upon the police 
and the press as allies who work together toward the same end, adding paren- 
thetically that this may surprise both reporters and policemen. Later it notes 
that the two do work closely together and for obvious media reasons (protec- 
tion). Then, at the point of recommendations, the Report concludes that "a 
recurrent problem in the coverage of last summer's disorders was friction and 
lack of cooperation between police officers and working reporters" and sug- 
gests a mutual orientation program to bring them together. Meanwhile, 
although "our studies suggest that reporters are already too closely tied to 
police and officials as news sources in a disorder," the Commission recom- 
mends an official information center to be located at police headquarters or 
city hall to serve both police and newsmen. The rhetoric used to reconcile 
all this on-again, off -again relationship sounds plausible enough. ("An in- 
formation center should not be permitted to intensify this [police-press] de- 
pendence.") But what it all boils down to is that the Commission wants the 
police and press to work together, but not too closely; be antagonistic, pre- 
sumably for ghetto benefit, but not too antagonistic; and centralize informa- 
tion, but not centralize it too much. This comes back to the traditional love- 
hate relationship that has existed forever. 

There should be some understanding, therefore, if so little has been done 
in implementing these rather schizophrenic recommendations. Some of them 
have been tried. Chicago, I believe, was credited with cooling a potential 
riot by close informational control and what has for years been close coopera- 
tion between police and press. But those past relationships did not hold up, 
as everyone knows, when the circumstances of the disorder were altered and 
the protesters were angry young middle-class whites instead of ghetto blacks. 
Every newsman of my acquaintance who participated in coverage of the cele- 
brated Democratic convention there last year considers that the "police riot," 
as it was so controversially characterized by the Walker study, was in consider- 
able measure directed against the media, its men, and their most devastating 
tool — the camera. 


The growing militance of policemen, and the dangerously widening rift 
between them and the media is everywhere known. In Boston, where the 
Globe has editorialized against police actions on occasion, an attempted boy- 
cott was mounted last summer. Building takeovers and mini-riots at Harvard 
and MIT have driven deeper wedges between those charged with maintaining 
order and those who report the maintenance breakdowns. The younger the 
reporter assigned— and how else does one plumb the feelings of youth?— the 
wider the rift and the deeper the emotions. That same divisiveness, along 
generational lines, is occurring in Chicago as elsewhere in the metropolitan 
centers of the nation. It is worse, I judge, on the coasts. 

This particular problem might well be unresponsive to any suggestions at 
this juncture, but the Kemer Commission recommendations have been of 
little or no value and will not be, in my view, in so long as have-cake-and- 
eat-it-too solutions are pursued. 

Part II 

The Kemer Commission, following its exhaustive study of the urban riots 
of 1967, came to three conclusions with respect to the media's role: 

First, . . . despite incidents of sensationalism, inaccuracies, and distortions, news- 
papers, radio and television, on the whole, made a real effort to give a balanced, 
factual account of the 1967 disorders. 

Second, despite this effort, the portrayal of the violence that occurred last sum- 
mer failed to reflect accurately its scale and character. The overall effect was, we 
believe, an exaggeration of both mood and event. 

Third, and ultimately most important, we believe that the media have thus far 
failed to report adequately on the causes and consequences of civil disorders and 
the underlying problems of race relations. 

Out of these three general conclusions, with which few in the media 
would quarrel, flowed the specific criticisms and recommendations the Com- 
mission made. How many of these specifics have the media accepted and 
how many of its recommendations are being implemented? 

In the first instance. Conclusion No. 1 above is hardly a criticism; in fact, 
it is almost the highest compliment that can be paid a professional in the 
business of gathering and reporting news — that he "made a real effort to 
give a balanced, factual account. . . ." Nevertheless, the industry has moved 
through a wide range of activities and techniques designed to minimize if not 
eliminate admitted incidents of "sensationalism, inaccuracies and distortions" 
noted by the Commission. It is encouraging, to begin with, to recognize that 
many of these isolated incidents came to the attention of the Commission 
through the media, some as a result of self-policing and some from cases of 
one media reporting on another. This practice has continued. A Washington 
Post reporter, for example, eyewitnessed and fully reported the incredible be- 

havior of a TV cameraman in coaching a black to toss a rock and otherwise 
stunt for his lenses. 

Riot conditions, it should be understood, do not offer ideal conditions 
for establishing fact. The event itself is hardly without sensation; and re- 
porting a riot, like reporting a war, resembles the fable of the blind men 
describing the elephant. "Inaccuracies," then, are often differing vantage 
points, and distortions are sometimes related to the varying pulse rates of 
fearful men under fire. Large team-reporting methods, experience, and wiser 
editors have eaten away the margin of error since the first riots caught all 
but a tiny band from the larger news-gathering establishments flat-footed. 
Throughout the country, even in small and medium-sized cities which have 
encountered racial strife, seminars and self-evaluating media groups have met 
with public officials and black leaders, militant to moderate, in an eflfort to 
review coverage errors and establish communications. My impression is that 
this has not happened as often as it should in cities which have somehow 
escaped disorder. 

Some of these cooperative efforts, however, pre-dated the Kerner Com- 
mission Report by a couple of years. In Boston, the Community Media 
Committee dates from June, 1966, when Celtic superstar Bill Russell, pre- 
dicting "Boston could blow up this summer," called for formation of the 
committee. Publishers and editors and managing editors of all the Boston 
newspapers and station managers and news directors of every one of its local 
TV and radio stations appeared at that meeting, and all have since partici- 
pated in a permanent program. About 40 from the media and some 20 from 
the black community attended that first meeting. And while there have been 
breakdowns from time to time, the program continues in seminars and work- 
shops, conferences, and plan visitations designed to familiarize ghetto dwellers 
with the inner workings of the media (from which springs much misunder- 
standing) and to educate the media in the inner workings of ghetto life 
(ditto) . 

Similar efforts in many other cities, such as South Bend, Indiana, got 
underway only after riots occurred, if somewhat before the Kerner Com- 
mission Report reached print. South Bend had major troubles, lost in the 
overpowering headlines of Detroit, but no less serious for it, and involving the 
same though scaled-down dynamics. 

It is difficult, however, to evaluate the implementation of Kerner Com- 
mission recommendations on how to improve riot coverage so as to avoid 
the criticisms of its second conclusion, e.g., that media coverage inaccurately 
reflected the scale and character of the riots and thus produced an overall 
effect that was "an exaggeration of both mood and event." The scale, 
character, and mood of riots are subjective matters at best; that being so, 
there was little else the Commission could suggest but the formulation of 

guidelines for covering such disorders. These guidelines presupposed a deeper, 
more sophisticated and understanding coverage of these events which would 
result in better evaluations of scope and scale and mood. Police-press relation- 
ships heretofore discussed also were established in this connection. 

As for guidelines, most major news organizations had long since adopted 
general guides for staffers, as the Commission noted ; and professional organi- 
zations which have since approached or discussed the subject of some sort 
of universal standard have quickly rejected such a notion, often with consider- 
able hostility. Differing news organizations with widely differing problems 
have preferred, almost without exception, to work out their own specialized 
rules. Unquestionably, though, the riots of 1967 and the Kerner Report 
stimulated many smaller news organizations which had not given the matter 
much thought to hold staff meetings and discussions leading to riot-condition 

Presumably, based on complaints or the scarcity of such, the major and 
metropolitan news organizations learned well the lessons of 1967 even before 
they had time to study the Kerner Report deeply. The Report was issued 
in March, 1968; the ink was not dry when, in April, the Memphis murder of 
Martin Luther King touched off the greatest wave of urban riots in American 
history. Perhaps study commissions were too exhausted or too limited in 
resources to explore media coverage of eruptions in more than 100 cities. 
Washington and Chicago were hardest hit. But few criticisms, few charges 
of distortion or inaccuracy or sensationalism, few claims of exaggerated mood 
or scale or character followed the King riots. No one so much as suggested 
that the rioters were performing their antics for the ever-faithful TV cameras; 
nor that, somehow, were the latter to cap their lenses and leave, the former 
would steal along home. 

Part III 

Dr. King's assassination made the Kerner Commission Report a best- 
seller. Coming less than a month behind the Report's issuance, the death 
of the martyred disciple of nonviolence touched off, besides fresh riots, a 
great deal of white soul-searching. The media weltered in guilt along with 
the nation; perhaps it gave them time to read the third conclusion of the 
Kerner Report: 

. . . Ultimately most important, we believe that the media have thus far failed 
to report adequately on the causes and consequences of civil disorders and the 
underlying problems of race relations. 

How better to cover a riot became, for a season, a moot point; how to 
avoid one far more vital. The recommendations of the Kerner group in this 
respect were without question the best formulated ones, the most constructive 
ones, and certainly the "most important." And it is in following these recom- 


mendations that the media have done the best job. The Commission had 
said of them: 

They have not communicated to the majority of their audience — which is 
white — a sense of the degradation, misery, and hopelessness of living in the ghetto. 
They have not communicated to whites a feeling for the difficulties and frustrations 
of being a Negro in the United States. They have not shown understanding or 
appreciation of — and thus have not communicated — a sense of Negro culture, 
thought or history. . . . 

Reports on ghetto living and poverty sprang up everywhere. 
The Commission continued: 

Far too often, the press acts and talks about Negroes as if Negroes do not read 
newspapers or watch television, give birth, marry, die, and go to PTA meetings. 
Some newspapers and stations are beginning to make efTorts to fill this void, but they 
ha\e still a long way to go. 

An honest judgment would have to conclude, two years later, that "they 
have still a long way to go," but tremendous progress has been made none- 
theless. The summer of 1968 saw a spate of media treatments of black history, 
black culture, biography, art, fashions, etc., etc. The subjects appeared in 
special newspaper supplements, special TV productions, magazines galore, 
on radio, billboards, books. Black proliferated in the entertainment and com- 
mercial faces of tube and slickprint as well as in the news. And while the 
University of Illinois scoured the country for qualified blacks for a "Project 
500," practically every northern metropolitan publisher was scouring uni- 
versities for black summer interns and black journalists who, a season before, 
had found the "pickin's" as scarce as the publishers now found them. 

There are, therefore, two separate faces to the Kemer recommendations 
with respect to blacks in the media — reports on blacks and reports hy 
blacks. Recruiting sufficient manpower to do the latter offers more hope and 
is the area, it seems to me, where more progress is being made and even more 
emphasis needs to be placed. For the training of black journalists ultimately 
will assure adequate and reliable reports on black activities which have been, 
and continue to be, in short supply. And in this, one must refer primarily to 
the day-to-day reports having to do with Negroes who "give birth, marr)', die 
and go to PTA meetings" rather than with either the flamboyant, catch-up 
reporting on all the lapses in history, art, personalities, and so on, of the past 
200 years, or "the degradation, misery, and hopelessness of living in the 

It is entirely possibly that there has been too much of the latter, indeed, 
despite the Commission's feelings. Poverty and the reporting on same, after 
all, were not exactly new when the Kemer Commission was formed, and any 
search of the media will find considerable evidence of both before Michael 
Harrington's Other America discovery. It is a myth that Harrington also dis- 
covered poverty. 


Moreover, there are risks involved in the over-reporting of degrading 
matters. One of the more important of these risks is what social scientists 
Paul Lazarsfeld and Robert Merton have called "narcotizing dysfunction." 
That is the process, as I understand it, through which people mistakenly con- 
vince themselves they have actually done something about social ills simply 
because they've read so much about them. And resentments rise inside the 
privacy-invaded ghetto as well as across town where the low-income white 
struggles to make ends meet. 

To say the least, there is reason to suspect that a young black journalist is 
more to be trusted on ghetto affairs than affluent white reporters with college 
degrees and more idealism than racial "savvy." That type of journalist is 
fast on the way, thanks in part to the Kerner Report. 

The media may have rejected the Commission's suggestion of an Institute 
of Urban Communications, but the important thing is it did not reject the 
primary purposes. Presumably, it felt that there were sufficient professional 
agencies and organizations already (not to mention journalism schools) to 
train, recruit, and place black journalists; to conduct research; and to review 
media performance on riots and racial issues. And the rationale for its pro- 
posed urban affairs service, something of a news service specializing in urban 
reporting, appeared singularly anemic. 

Indeed, many of the Institute's proposed functions were already being 
provided elsewhere or were quickly absorbed by long-existing agencies. In 
June, the New York Urban Coalition established a pilot national program to 
help members of minority groups find editorial jobs in the communications 
industries. The plan, called the Communications Skill Bank, is recruiting 
candidates across the country for editorial jobs on newspapers, magazines, 
radio and television stations, and in advertising, publishing, and public rela- 
tions. The Bank serves as a clearing house for minority-group members look- 
ing for such positions, providing a centralized source of editorial talent among 
Negroes, Puerto Ricans, and other members of minority groups to the media. 

Ford Foundation money went into the Washington Journalism Center, 
specifically earmarked for training blacks. Thus, of the 20 young Fellowship 
newsmen enrolled there this year, exactly 10 are black and so is the new 
Associate Director, Clarence Hunter. Other Ford funds went to Columbia 
University for a summer journalism training project through which more 
mature Negroes, once unable to pursue reporting careers, could be retrained 
to do so. Professor Howard ZifT, of the University of Illinois, was among 
the project supervisors last summer. Still more Ford money is behind the 
Urban Affairs reporting center at Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism. 
The Newspaper Fund, in cooperation with local newspapers and journal- 
ism departments, sponsored four month-long journalism workshops for urban 
ghetto youths last summer at Washington, D.C., Detroit, Athens, Ohio, and 
Plainfield, New Jersey. In May, the American Newspaper Publishers Associa- 

tion awarded $15,075 in grants-in-aid to 29 college students under its Negro 
journalism scholarship fund. In November, Sigma Delta Chi, national jour- 
nalistic society, urged continuation of this program and its extension to 
Mexican-Americans, Oriental-Americans, American Indians, and other minor- 
ity groups. Simultaneously, it adopted a resolution calling for its own minority- 
group training program in addition to its sponsorship of the Washington 

This is only a fraction of the programs, should one count the scores of 
intern setups operated by individual newspapers, television stations, magazines, 
and publishing houses. (The one with which I have been associated at the 
Boston Globe for four years had no blacks in 1966, one in 1967, six in 1968, 
and eight in 1969; and I have noted, in professional journals, similar stepups 
in other programs). The black news committee of the Associated Press 
Managing Editors Association is pitching a training program to the lower 
levels — a high school prep affair. 

A number of blacks have finally cracked into the heretofore denied circle 
of news executives; and the American Society of Newspaper Editors, this 
year, had its first black member of the board of directors. 

Perhaps even more hopeful is a discovery the Kemer Commission sug- 
gested: the American media are finding the black potential customer as his 
concentration in central cities grows. Thus, Tuesday, a black-owned 
and edited supplement for core city distribution with existing metropolitan 
newspapers grew to a circulation base of 2,000,000 this year. In Kansas City, 
an industrious group of young blacks set up Black Light, Inc., an all-black 
newspaper feature syndicate distributing ghetto-oriented comics and humor. 

Recounted in such fashion, this sounds like very much; in the context 
of the entire media picture it is not spectacular, but it does indicate progress. 
There is considerable apprehension that the sudden drive sparked by Martin 
Luther King's death and the riots might splutter somewhat in the absence of 
crisis, but it may be unfair to make so early a judgment. My own personal 
impression is that, while the media serving national and large urban centers 
have moved ahead steadily in all aspects of the Kemer recommendations, 
medium-sized and small city operations have done rather less than little. 
Illinois has quite a large number of these "middle-sized daily" cities, and in 
my limited contacts with them, I have encountered no black reporters or 
editors. Chicago, of the large metropolitan centers, also seems to lag behind 
other comparable markets. But it must be acknowledged that, until last year, 
the University of Illinois was hardly in a position to supply one trained black 
journalist, had one of our own state customers come looking. 

The university journalism program lags in this respect, too, because it 
does not enroll students before the junior year and the first 500 freshmen ar- 
rived last year. Wait till next year. 




State involvement in the fate of urban America is as vital as the involvement of the 
National Government. . . . Should the States fail to meet this challenge (the urban 
crisis), should they fail to reassert their responsibility and maintain their pivotal 
position in the partnership triangle, they may fatally erode federalism's foundations.' 


The general lack of responsiveness of state governments to the growing 
crisis in their cities has caused considerable concern among academicians, 
journalists, and some public officials. The situation is so acute that presently 
a big city mayor's first inclination is to seek help from Washington rather 
than from his state government. 

The increasing number of direct federal-city relationships provides evi- 
dence that the national government is perceived, with some justification, as 
being more attuned than state governments to the needs of urban areas. 
On the other hand, broad research has not focused on the deterioration of 
state-city relationships or state "nonresponsiveness." Essentially, studies have 
been piecemeal in nature; each piece has added to an increasingly serious 
picture of the legal and structural apparatus of state governmental machinery 
as more of a liability than an asset in solving contemporary urban problems. 

This paper is an attempt to add another "piece" to the picture. Its major 
focus is on a specification of the impact of the Kerner Commission Report 
on the Illinois General Assembly. In other words, it is an attempt to deter- 
mine whether the legislature in Illinois responded to the findings of the 

It is particularly appropriate to examine what happened in Illinois. 
Illinois is not only a major industrial state with concomitant racial problems, 
but it is also the home state of the chairman of the National Advisory Com- 
mission on Civil Disorders. The governor of Illinois plays an extremely im- 
portant role in the state's legislative process through his budget and veto 
powers and his role as chief executive. He also has a vital part to play in 

'Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, Urban America and the 
Federal System (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1969), p. 105. 


regard to the initiation and support of legislation. The legislative output 
in Illinois can be analyzed as largely the result of a matrix of relationships 
involving the governor, the executive departments, and the legislature. 

Illinois is the fourth largest state in the country in terms of population. 
It contains the nation's second largest city; although it is a manufacturing 
and industrial center, downstate Illinois has some of the richest farm land 
in the Midwest. According to the 1960 census, 10.3 per cent of the state's 
citizens are nonwhite. The two major pockets of nonwhite concentration are 
in Chicago and East St. Louis, although many other Illinois cities contain 
significant Negro communities. In fact, Illinois presents good evidence that 
racial conflict is not necessarily limited to major urban areas. The city of 
Cairo (population: 8,500) has experienced some of the most violent distur- 
bances in this country in the last year. Illinois has had its share of racial 
trouble (recently and historically) ; in many respects the state is a microcosm 
of the social and economic conditions discussed in the Kerner Commission 

Before analyzing the state's response to the findings of the Kerner Com- 
mission, it is necessary to point out that the Report was not a report to the 
Illinois General Assembly. (Indeed one wonders to whom the report was di- 
rected.) This adds to the problem of interpretation. Essentially the dilemma 
is this: what references to state governments did the Commission make and, 
given this, what response could reasonably be expected from a state legisla- 
ture? Intermixed with these questions is the definitional problem of what 
constitutes a legislative response to the Report. Finally, to what extent did 
the Illinois General Assembly react to the findings and recommendations of 
the Report? The following sections address themselves to these questions. 

Part I 

In our federal system, one might have expected that all levels of govern- 
ment would be prominently mentioned in the Report as necessary agents for 
broad social change. In point of fact, however, the Commission members 
(and staff) apparently did not feel that state governments were viable instru- 
ments for solving racial problems. (One is again reminded that the chairman 
of the Commission was a sitting governor of a highly urbanized state). 

The text of the Report presents some interesting omissions. Included in 
Part III ("What Can Be Done"), there was a chapter entitled "The Com- 
munity Response." But there was no chapter designated "The State Response" 
or "What State Governments Can Do." Chapter 17 of the Report is devoted 
to "Recommendations for National Action." Again, there was no comparable 
chapter directed to the states. 

An Inventory of Commission References to State Governments 

The Commission lamented the lack of program coordination at the na- 
tional level and the presence of parochialism at the state level — both of which 
add up to a kind of "nonpolicy" for race problems. 

Instrumentalities of federal and state governments often compound . . . (race) 
problems. National policy expressed through a very large number of grant programs 
and institutions rarely exhibits a coherent and consistent perspective when viewed at 
the local level. State efforts, traditionally focused on rural areas, often fail to tie in 
effectively with either local or federal programs in urban areas.^ 

In order to carry out some of its recommendations, the Commission noted 
that city governments will require state and federal support. More specifically, 
the Commission urged : 

In the face of the bewildering proliferation of both community demands and local, 
state, and federal programs, mayors and city councils need to create new mecha- 
nisms to aid in decision-making, program-planning, and coordination. At this time, 
however, no assistance is available to develop these new and critically necessary 
institutional capabilities or to support the required research, consultants, staff, or 
other vital components of administrative or legislative competence. 
The Commission recommends, therefore, that both the state and federal govern- 
ments provide financial assistance to cities for these purposes as a regular part of 
all urban program funding.' 

In perhaps its strongest statement, the Commission took cognizance of 
the important part state government must play in assisting the urban mayor 
in his thankless job. 

. . . (State government) must equip city leadership with the jurisdictional tools to 
deal with its problems. It must provide a fuller measure of financial and other 
resources to urban areas. Most importantly, state leadership is in a unique position 
to focus the interests and growing resources, political as well as financial, of the 
suburbs on the physical, social, and cultural environment of the central cities. The 
crisis confronting city government today cannot be met without regional cooperation. 
This cooperation can take many forms — metropolitan government, regional plan- 
ning, joint endeavors. It must be a principal goal, perhaps the overriding concern, 
of leadership at the state level to fashion a lasting and mutually productive rela- 
tionship between city and suburban areas.^ 

In its call for national action (Chapter 17), the Commission made scat- 
tered references to the states in its recommendations on employment, educa- 
tion, and welfare. 

Employment. In the section on employment, the Commission concerned 
itself with essentially administrative and coordinative activities of state govern- 
ments. The Report recommended: 

'Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (New York: 
Bantam Books, 1968), p. 283. 
' Ibid., p. 293. 
* Ibid., p. 299. 


Existing programs aimed at recruiting, training, and job development should be 
consolidated according to the function they serve at the local, state, and federal 
levels, to avoid fragmentation and duplication.'^ 

The Commission also urged the strengthening of federal, state, and local 
efforts to ensure equal opportunity in emplo)TTient. The specifics of this 
recommendation dealt with such federal-level laws and agencies as the 1964 
Civil Rights Act and the Equal Emplo\Tnent Opportunity Commission (the 
federal enforcement agency under Title VII of the 1964 Act) . No explicit 
recommendations for state action were made. 

Welfare. The section on welfare discusses the problems associated \vith 
the welfare system in general and the ramifications of the "Labyrinth" of 
federal, state, and local legislation in particular. Because this was a federal- 
level commission and because welfare is essentially a federal function (more 
than 90 per cent of national welfare payments are made through programs 
that are partly or largely federally funded ) , this section generally calls for 
Congressional action. Scattered throughout these pages, however, are some 
explicit indictments of existing state regulations (e.g., the "Man-in-the- 
House" rule, insensitive administration by some welfare workers, residency 
requirements, etc.). Also a recognition of the constraints on the states' fiscal 
capacities led the Commission to recommend far greater federal involvement. 
A fuller discussion of the welfare recommendations of the Commission and 
its applicability to Illinois is presented in Professor Taber's paper. 

Education. The most direct statement calling for state action is con- 
tained in the Commission's section on education. This is not surprising, since 
education is still primarily a state and local function. The present system of 
funding in most states came in for the greatest criticism from the members of 
the Commission. In general, state aid fomiulas which were designed in an- 
other era no^v tend to "reinforce existing inequities." Specifically, the Com- 
mission recommended : 

. . . that every state reexamine its present method of allocating funds to local school 
districts, not merely to provide equal funds for all political subdivisions on a per- 
pupil basis, but to assure more per-student aid to districts having a high proportion 
of disadvantaged students. Only if equalization formulas reflect the need to spend 
larger amounts per pupil in schools predominately populated by disadvantaged stu- 
dents will state aid be allocated on an equitable basis.^ 

The Kerner Commission also addressed itself to the role of the state in 
fostering integration in the educational system. The Report states: 

... the states and, in particular, the state education agencies, have a key role to 
play in accomplishing school integration. The states are in a unique position to 
bring about urban-suburban cooperation and metropolitan planning. We urge that 
the efforts of state educational agencies in this area be gi\en clear direction through 

'Ibid., p. 415. 

' Ibid., pp. 455-56. 

adoption of state-vvdde, long-term integration plans and intensified through active 
promotion of such plans.' 

Two other references to state governments complete the inventory. In 
Chapter 14, the Commission concerned itself with the problem of the avail- 
ability of property insurance in the inner-city. It urged : 

... the insurance industry to take the lead in establishing voluntary plans in all 
states to assure all property owners fair access to property insurance. We look to the 
states to cooperate with the industry in establishing these plans; and to supplement 
the plans, to whatever extent may be necessary, by organizing insurance pools and 
taking other steps to facilitate the insuring of urban core properties.* 

Finally, in its supplementary chapter on the "Control of Disorder" (Part 
IV), one section is devoted to "State Response to Civil Disorders." The Com- 
mission dismissed the disorder-control effectiveness of state police forces be- 
cause they are undermanned and undertrained in riot-control tactics. Much 
greater emphasis was given to the National Guard. The Commission noted 
that, although the performance of the Guard in Newark and Detroit left 
something to be desired, it remains "the only organization with sufficient man- 
power and appropriate organization and equipment which can materially 
assist local police departments in riot control operations." The Commission 
recommended that the Guard be given increased riot-control training; that 
a review of the standards for Guard officers be implemented; and that the 
number of blacks in the Guard be substantially increased. (In the introduc- 
tion to the paperback version of the Report, Tom Wicker notes that integra- 
tion of the Illinois Guard made substantial progress during Governor Kerner's 

Because of the dual nature of the Guard, jurisdictional lines of authority 
are sometimes blurred. Suffice it to say that the states, through their gover- 
nors, have some control over the Guard (unless it is called into federal ser- 
vice) . Implementation of the Commission's recommendations can be carried 
out, to a certain extent, by state government. 

What Could Be Expected from the States? 

Given the fact that the Kerner Commission Report was not a report to 
the General Assembly and that it made very few direct appeals to states for 
affirmative action, what could one reasonably expect from a state government 
in response to the release of the Report? 

The answer to this question probably reflects one's normative judgment. 
Yet, the general thrust of the Commission's Report seems to transcend all 
levels of our federal system. In other words, despite some technical jurisdic- 
tional constraints, the content of the Report was of such dimension that all 
levels of government could be expected to respond. This, then, is the major 

' Ibid., p. 456. 
'/6zW., p. 361. 

underlying assumption of this paper; but it is an assumption based on some 
rather sound arguments. 

First, as the Report ably documents, certain groups in contemporary 
society are questioning the very legitimacy of government. A lack of re- 
sponsiveness to social and economic problems pervades federal, state, and 
local government. One is hard put to argue that responsibility for attacking 
racial discrimination (and its ramifications) in this country is solely within 
the domain of the federal government. 

Similarly, the language of the Commission's Report does not absolve the 
states from responsibility for what happened in 1967 nor does it preclude 
them from taking action on its recommendations. To be sure, some of the 
Commission's recommendations Avere so vast in scope that priman' responsi- 
bility must fall on the government with the broadest fiscal base and legal 
authority. Funding for the welfare system would apply in this regard. Yet, 
even here, the states could do a great deal to clear up jurisdictional inequities 
and administrative insensitivities. 

The precise role of state government in the construction of low-income 
housing was never mentioned in the Report. But, as Professor Murray points 
out in his paper, there is a vacuum of action available to the states to help 
fund construction in their own area. Unfortunately, despite some minimal 
activity in this regard, the results of state action have been less than im- 

These are but two of many possible examples in the Commission's Report 
in which state governments could play a more active and responsive role in 
the solution of racial problems. Indeed, in the true spirit of "creative fed- 
eralism," such action is not only proper but imperative. 

Finally, the Commission devoted a considerable number of pages to de- 
veloping a matrix of strategies and programs for local units of government. 
But the important legal relationship between states and their local govern- 
ments was virtually ignored. Local governments are creatures of state gov- 
ernments ; they owe their existence to state legislatures or to state constitutions. 
Autonomy to act on the local level varies from state to state ; so-called "home- 
rule" states tend to give their local governments somewhat greater jurisdic- 
tional freedom and, in a few states, local units have some taxing powers. 
However, most states (including Illinois) operate under "Dillon's Rule" — 
the legal principle ^vhich holds that a local government can exercise only those 
poAvers expressly granted or necessarily implied in its charter. Any reasonable 
doubt about whether a local power exists is construed for the state and against 
the local unit. For a city to take action, therefore, there must be an existing 
state statute specifically authorizing such action or the city-fathers must go 
to the state legislature and ask for passage of an appropriate bill. 

In addition to jurisdictional restrictions, most local governments face 


severe fiscal limitations. Property tax, the main source of revenue for local 
governments, is characterized by inconsistent (and, on occasion, blatantly un- 
fair and regressive) assessment and collection procedures. The revenue base 
for many local governments is simply not broad enough to provide sufficient 
funding for "social change" programs. There is increased recognition on the 
part of many students of state and local government that the states must be 
prepared to assume greater functional and fiscal responsibilities in their urban 

The Commission's recommendations for local community programs and 
reform must be considered against this background of legal and fiscal limita- 
tions. The evidence seems to be clear: state governments must become deeply 
involved in solving the problems created by "white racism." 

Part III 

Working under the assumption that the Illinois legislature should have 
responded (in some fashion) to the Kerner Commission Report, some inputs 
and outputs of the legislative process were analyzed to see if, in fact, such 
response was forthcoming. Essentially, inputs are in the form of gubernatorial 
addresses and special messages, and activities of certain nonlegislative groups 
\vho may have been responding to the Commission's Report. Outputs are 
the bills introduced and killed or passed in the legislative sessions following 
the release of the Commission's Report. As was noted previously, it is difficult 
to detennine precisely what constitutes a response to the Report. For purposes 
of this analysis, any message from the governor, organizational activity, or 
legislative proposal which bears a close relationship to the racial conflict 
described or recommendations for action urged by the Commission are con- 
sidered a response of some nature. 

The analysis is focused primarily on those activities occurring after the 
release of the Report (March 2, 1968). The timetable listed below begins 
more than two years earlier than that because the possible relationship between 
the Kerner Commission and the Illinois legislature cannot be considered an 
isolated one. Events help shape the lives and behavior of men; but events 
have relationships. The following list is not exclusive — only those occur- 
rences which seem to place the Kerner Commission Report and the operation 
of Illinois government in historical perspective are noted. 

A Timetable of Events 

January- 7, 1966 — Dr. Martin Luther King launched SCLC's "first sustained 
Northern movement" in Chicago. Demanded an end to discrimination 
in jobs, housing, and schools. 

June/July, 1966 — Civil disturbances in Puerto Rican and Negro communities 


in Chicago. Two people killed and hundreds arrested. Governor Kemer 

sent in National Guard to quell the violence. 
August, 1966 — Fourteen persons injured and eighty arrested in wake of 

racial trouble in Waukegan, Illinois. 
September, 1966- — Civil rights march into Cicero, Illinois, with resulting 

injuries and arrests. Governor Kerner sent in 2,000 National Guard 

January 4, 1967 — Govei-nor Kerner addressed the opening of the 75th Gen- 
eral Assembly (this legislature had just been reapportioned on a "one-man, 

one-vote" basis). 
May/ July /August/September/November, 1967 — Scattered racial incidents 

with var)ing degrees of violence in Chicago, Aurora, Maywood, Cairo, 

Waukegan, Evanston, Peoria, Rockford, Elgin, and Madison, Illinois. 
June 30, 1967 — Adjournment of the 75th General Assembly to a day certain, 

beginning a practice of holding off-year sessions. 
July 28, 1967 • — • President Johnson established National Advisory Commission 

on Civil Disorders. Governor Kemer of Illinois was appointed chairman, 
March 2, 1968 — Kerner Commission Report released. 
March 4, 1968 — The 75th General Assembly reconvened for a one-day 

April 4, 1968 — Dr. Martin Luther King assassinated in Memphis. 
April 5-8, 1968 — Rioting in Chicago as aftermath of Dr. King's assassination. 
May 21, 1968 — Governor Kemer stepped down to become judge of U.S. 

Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. Lt. Governor Samuel Shapiro be- 
came Governor of Illinois. 
July 15-July 25, 1968 — The 75th General Assembly reconvened for short 

July 15, 1968 — Governor Shapiro addressed joint session of 75th General 

January 8, 1969 — Opening session of 76th General Assembly. Gov. Shapiro's 

message to joint session on completion of his term. 
January 13, 1969 — Gov. Ogilvie's inauguration and address to 76th General 

March/April/May, 1969 — Continued racial violence in Cairo, Illinois. 
May 14-15, 1969 — Rev. Jesse Jackson, head of Operation Breadbasket, led 

delegation to Springfield to protest proposed welfare cuts. 
June 19, 1969 — Gov. Ogilvie sent seventy state troopers to Cairo, Illinois, 

after four nights of sniping and arson. 
June 30, 1969 — The 76th General Assembly adjourned to a day certain. 


July 16-22, 1969 — Series of sit-ins in front of Governor Ogilvie's office staged 
by the United Front of Cairo to demand that the Governor declare Cairo 
a disaster area and grant massive state aid. Approximately seventy per- 
sons eventually arrested. 

October 14-23, 1969— Short session of the 76th General Assembly. 

After the Report: Governors and Legislatures 

The timetable points out the following pertinent facts: (1) Illinois has 
had three governors since the release of the Kerner Commission Report; (2) 
the 75th Illinois General Assembly held two short "ofT-year" sessions after the 
release of the Report and the 76th General Assembly held a normal January 
to June session plus a short October meeting; (3) the recent history of the 
state (before and after the Report) has been dotted with varying kinds of 
racial trouble. 

The 75th General Assembly. Despite his close identification with the find- 
ings of the National Advisory Commission, Governor Kerner's administration 
was something less than a model of state implementation of Commission 
recommendations. While the 75th General Assembly was in session, Governor 
Kerner submitted special messages on law enforcement, higher education, 
and employment discrimination. In his budget message, he made reference 
to education and social services. Yet, Governor Kerner's special messages, 
viewed separately or collectively, did not present a broad program for solving 
inner-city racial problems. His proposals for change were essentially piecemeal 
in scope and administrative in content. He called for the expansion of some 
programs (e.g., local police training) and the reorganization of some agencies 
(e.g., making the Youth Commission a code department) . 

On the positive side, it should be noted that Governor Kerner urged an 
increase in minimum wages, a strengthening of the state Fair Employment 
Practices Commission, the establishment of an executive-level Office of Inter- 
governmental Cooperation, and the raising of the state education equalization 
level from $330 to $400 per pupil (although he made no mention of re- 
moving the inequities in the state aid formula) . In calling for a statewide 
"open housing" law. Governor Kerner presented perhaps his strongest state- 
ment on human rights. The occasion was the opening of the 75th General As- 
sembly (January 4, 1970). 

The moral, social and economic sore of discrimination continues to fester in the 
body and soul of our nation. It breeds poverty and crime, spawns hatred and 
violence, saps our strength. Racial strife in our State last year necessitated the 
calling of our National Guard. I am hopeful that it is never so used again, but if 
need be it will, as promptly and forcefully as before, to protect the rights and prop- 
erty of all people. Greater responsibility is required of all. We have our responsi- 
bility in government. It is true that this great social problem cannot be solved by 
law alone, but it is also true that it cannot be solved \vithout the law. This points 
out the necessity of enactnient of a freedom-of-residence law. 


The reason for all such action is contained in the words of a great governor, John P. 
Altgeld, addressing himself to another time of social unrest when labor strife em- 
broiled the entire state and there was discrimination of another kind. When, as 
now, irresponsibility was not confined to one side of the question and when the 
cry of anarchist by some covered every man who simply protested injustice and 

Altgeld said: "Only those nations grow great which correct abuses, make reforms, 
and listen to the voice of the struggling masses." Times have not changed in this 

Despite the eloquence of this statement, a state open housing bill never 
made its way through the legislature. Nor was there any evidence of a broad 
gubernatorial program designed to "make reforms and listen to the voice of the 
struggling masses." Although Governor Kemer supported an integrated Na- 
tional Guard, open housing, nondiscrimination in employment, etc., his 
"pre-Report" posture as governor of Illinois gave little indication that the 
Commission's work, under his chairmanship, would present the broad and 
penetrating report which it did. 

Kerner's "post-Report" tenure was short lived. Exactly fourteen months 
after his human rights statement to the 75th General Assembly and two days 
after the release of the Commission's Report, the General Assembly held a 
one-day session in Springfield. It is probably unreasonable to expect legislative 
response within forty-eight hours after the Commission's Report was released. 
Yet a few interesting bills were introduced at the March 4 session and were 
acted upon when the legislature reconvened in July. One bill, which was in 
opposition to one of the Commission's findings, would have prevented the 
assignment or busing of students for purposes of racial integration. Conversely, 
a bill to create an Emplo)'ment Development Act was introduced. Under the 
terms of this proposed legislation, business corporations would be authorized 
to set up wholly owned subsidiaries in Model City or depressed areas. These 
subsidiaries would be exempt from corporation taxes. This corresponds with 
the Kemer Commission's recommendations for greater involvement by private 
industry^ and the use of tax incentives.^° Other bills would have increased 
municipalities' share of the sales tax, increased the maximum permissible tax 
rate for the Chicago Board of Education, and enacted a state freedom-of- 
residence law. None of these bills passed. 

One month later. Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated. Despite Gov- 
ernor Kerner's hope that the National Guard would not have to be used 
again, he sent troops into Chicago during a four-day siege following Dr. King's 
death. Eleven people were killed, some 500 were injured, and almost 3,000 
were arrested during the disturbances. 

' Ibid., p. 399 and p. 406. 
^° Ibid., Appendix H. 


About sLx weeks later, Governor Kerner resigned to become a judge in the 
U.S. Court of Appeals. His Lieutenant Governor, Samuel Shapiro, took over 
the state's top executive position. 

Governor Shapiro immediately faced a severe fiscal crisis — one which 
required borrowing from the state's motor fuel tax fund. When he addressed 
a joint session of the 75th General Assembly, meeting on July 15, he spoke 
about the crisis and asked for legislative permission to borrow $60 million from 
the motor fuel fund. The Governor also addressed himself to the "law and 
order" issue. He called for a strengthening of the state's gun control law 
(passed in 1967), an increase in the number of state police, and the passage 
of a "stop-and-frisk" law. 

Twice Governor Shapiro made direct reference to the Kerner Commission 
Report. In urging a "stop-and-frisk" bill, he took cognizance of the warnings 
of the Commission concerning the danger of such a law. He noted that Gov- 
ernor Kerner had vetoed such legislation on two previous occasions because 
of its questionable constitutionality. But, Governor Shapiro added, recent 
U.S. Supreme Court decisions had established reasonable guidelines within 
\vhich his proposed legislation would fall. 

His second reference to the Commission's Report \vas in regard to inner- 
city property' insurance. He noted that a report of the Commission's subcom- 
mittee on insurance concluded that the ready availability of insurance was a 
necessary' ingredient in revitalizing cities. He called on the General Assembly 
to implement the subcommittee's recommendations. 

In the July session of the legislature, Governor Shapiro was successful in 
getting some of his recommendations passed. The General Assembly passed 
and sent to the Governor legislation on urban property insurance, stop-and- 
frisk powers of police, and borrowing from the motor fuel fund. The legis- 
lature failed to pass a strengthening amendment to the gun control law, an 
increase in the state police force, and a bill which would have created a law 
enforcement planning and assistance board. In other action, a bill which re- 
quires the reporting of cases of malnutrition to the Department of Public 
Health was passed and signed by the Governor. Two pieces of legislation, 
which were "anti-Report" in substance, were killed in committee. One bill 
would have made welfare recipients ineligible for assistance for one year after 
being convicted of the crimes or araied violence, rioting, or looting. The 
other bill would have prevented the hiring (in government) of anyone con- 
victed of looting and would have provided for the immediate discharge of 
anyone so convicted. 

The 76th General Assembly. At the November, 1968, general election. 
Republican Richard B. Ogilvie defeated Shapiro in the race for governor. 
In his inaugural address to the new 76th General Assembly, Governor Ogilvie 
did not make specific reference to the Kerner Commission. Yet the tone of 


his speech indicated an a\vareness of some of the problems included in the 


. . . \'oices are raised in dissent and protest, and there is a crisis of alienation 

among us. 

. . . The black man, the youth and the philosopher who protest are demanding 

change, and they confront our conscience the way slavery, the sweatshops and other 

hypocrisy of earlier times stirred Americans. 

. . . We can't stand prosperity — -when too many are still poor. ^Ve cannot fully 

accept the explosion of knowledge — when it pushes some ever higher and others 

into deepening ignorance. W^e are uncomfortable at the gap between what we believe 

and what we have achieved. 

. . . We shall hold no objective more important than to mobilize the full force of 

this state government against poverty and ignorance. For these are the twin 

scourges of our society. They are the roots of crime and of the decay of our cities. 

Less than a month after his inaugural address, Governor Ogilvie went be- 
fore the legislature again to discuss the increasingly serious fiscal crisis in the 
state. In his February 5, 1969, address, the Governor told the legislators that 
the state was living on borrowed money through a series of stop-gap mea- 
sures. He called for a review of department personnel, a delay in new capital 
construction, and a general cost-reduction program in state government. He 
noted that his administration ^vould begin budgeting on an annual basis, and 
he asked for legislative support for a bill \\hich would establish a Bureau of 
the Budget. 

On March 26, 1969, the Governor delivered a special message on local 
government in which he called for nine nonfiscal structural reforms. Basically 
these reforms would have provided a small degree of legislative home rule 
for municipalities. They ranged from an expansion of local licensing powers 
to authorization for intergovernmental cooperation. One suggestion would 
have imposed a modem civil ser\'ice system on the city of Chicago. Of the 
governor's recommendations, two ^vere passed by the legislature. One estab- 
lished a state Department of Local Government AflFairs and the other 
accelerated the transfer of road-building funds to local treasuries. The Local 
Government Affairs Department represents an attempt to consolidate some 
other code departments' dealings with local government. The new depart- 
ment came into existence on January 2, 1970; consequently, it is too early 
to determine whether it will provide better state servdces to local units of 

Governor Ogilvie's April 1, 1969, budget message to the legislature out- 
lined increases in three major functional areas. In education, the Go\ernor 
proposed raising the state per-pupil grant from $400 to $500 and adjusting 
the aid formula from Average Daily Attendance (ADA) to Average Daily 
Membership (ADM). The new formula, if approved by the legislature, 
would be based on enrollment, and this would significantly aid inner-city 

school districts where absenteeism is higher than it is in suburban or rural 
districts. The Governor also noted that he would have further recommenda- 
tions for state aid formula adjustments in 1970. In addition to these changes, 
Governor Ogilvie budgeted $32 million for state aid to private schools. If 
approved by the General Assembly, this would be a "first" in Illinois history. 

The second area budgeted for a major increase was highway transportation 
(an additional $437 million). The third area of initiative was a proposed 
new program of revenue-sharing with local government. This was part of 
the income tax package proposed by the Governor in this budget message. 

When the complete story of the state's first income tax is told, it will 
unquestionably rank with the most intriguing political sagas in the history 
of Illinois. It will be a story filled with vignettes of persuasion, cajoling, 
intimidation, and compromise in the best tradition of politics. Suffice it to 
say here that the Governor, in his April 1, 1969, budget message, proposed the 
imposition of a 4 per cent flat rate tax on both individuals and corporations, 
allowing a $1,000 per person exemption with one-eighth of the revenue going 
back to local governments. When the smoke had cleared, the final income 
tax bill passed by the legislature (and signed by the Governor) provided for 
a 4 per cent tax on corporations and a 2'/2 per cent tax on individuals (with 
$1,000 exemption), with one-twelfth of the revenue going back to local 
governments on a per capita basis. There was also an increase in the propor- 
tion of the sales tax which would stay with the local community (from % 
of 1 per cent to a full 1 per cent) . 

In many respects, the story of the 76th General Assembly is the story of 
the passage of the income tax. As one knowledgeable political reporter said 
near the end of the session : 

The income tax completely dominates everything else. The whole show is like a 
slow ballet waiting to build to its inevitable climax: the tax issue." 

Yet there were almost 2,000 bills enacted into law during the 76th 
General Assembly, only a few of which related to the revenue package.^^ As 
in any session of the General Assembly, many of the bills were technical and 
housekeeping in nature, although some have relevance for the findings of the 
Kerner Commission Report. These were divided into functional categories 
for purposes of analysis. 

Education. Some of the Governor's recommendations concerning education 

" Chicago Sun Times, June 16, 1969. 

" Technically, the 76th General Assembly has not adjourned "sine die." There 
is a planned session around April 1, 1970, with the possibility of further sessions in 
the fall. At the time of this writing, however, the legislature had completed its 
normal January to June meeting with a short October session added. It was these 
sessions which were analyzed in this paper. One is reminded that the 76th General 
Assembly represents the first full legislative session to be held after the release of 
the Kerner Commission Report. 


have been noted earlier. The legislature went beyond the Governor's proposed 
increase of state per-pupil aid; the General Assembly passed a bill which 
increased the aid from $400 to $520 per student. However, bills which would 
change the state-aid formula (from ADA to ADM) were killed in committee. 

Am^g the education bills passed by the 76th General Assembly were two 
which raised the maximum interest rate payable on school bonds and raised 
the tax rate maximums for school building pui-poses. Other bills which passed 
authorized the Chicago Board of Education to employ volunteer personnel 
for nonteaching duties, lowered the eligibility age (from 21 to 19) for taking 
the GED test, and appropriated over $6 million to help pay for school trans- 
portation costs. Perhaps the two most noteworthy bills \vhich passed the 
legislature were HB 2601 and SB 1255. The latter piece of legislation set up 
an experimental junior college district in East St. Louis which is financed 
entirely by state funds. Bill HB 2601 appropriated $5.4 million to expand 
a free school lunch program for needy children. Prior to this, the program 
had been entirely financed by the federal government. 

Among the defeated bills were ones which would have authorized Chicago 
to levy an additional 1 per cent municipal retailers occupation tax to be used 
for school purposes, granted state aid to parents of children in private schools, 
and provided for state funding of local programs for educationally dis- 
advantaged children. Two other bills, \vhich were in direct opposition to 
Kemer Commission recommendations, were tabled in committee. One would 
have removed provisions prohibiting school boards from promoting segregation 
in the erection, purchase, or acquisition of school buildings. The other would 
have prohibited the assignment of pupils to a school outside their district 
without the written permission of their parents. 

The Police and the Courts. The Kemer Commission Report contains 
many pages devoted to an analysis of ho%v the behavior of police and the 
administration of justice can sometimes act as a catalyst for violence in the 
ghetto. The record of the 76th General Assembly in this regard is something 
less than enviable. Only tvvo important bills were passed in this session. 
One bill provided that no one is to be barred from an appointment to any 
civil service position (other than policeman) for any record of misdemeanor 
convictions or arrests without conviction. The other bill reduced the penalty 
for the possession of marijuana. 

Some "positive" bills (e.g., the repeal of the "stop-and-frisk" law, the 
creation of a Commission of Police Relations, the requirement of training 
for Cook County police appointees, and the creation of a statewide Defender 
General System) were stalled somewhere along the legislative path. A series 
of bills which would make the granting of parole and the raising of bail more 
difficult were killed in committee. A bill which would have made the 1967 
gun control law applicable only to Cook County was vetoed by the Governor. 

And, an eavesdropping law was passed and signed by the Governor. This 
law provides that one party to a conversation can consent to the use of an 
eavesdropping device and it permits the use of information obtained by such 
a device in a criminal proceeding. 

Housing. Despite the introduction of a number of "open housing" bills 
in the 76th General Assembly, none was passed. A bill designed to eliminate 
racial discrimination in the rental of housing also failed. Bills which would 
strip Chicago aldermen of their veto power over public housing sites, prohibit 
state housing authorities from discriminating against unwed mothers re- 
garding tenant selection, and permit the withholding of rent if the landlord 
did not repair premises in compliance with local building codes were all 
killed in committees. 

Two bills which were passed deserve mention. One provides for the 
liability of landlords who exceed the number of apartments permitted by 
local ordinances. The other is designed to curb "panic peddling" in racially 
changing neighborhoods. The actual workability of the latter bill is not yet 
clear. It provides that owners of property who do not wish to be solicited 
for the sale of such property can file an affidavit with the state Human Rela- 
tions Commission. Official complaints can be filed with the Attorney General. 

Health and Welfare. There were a large number of bills introduced in 
the 1969 General Assembly which could be called "health and welfare" 
proposals. Some could be labeled "positive," (i.e., in line with the general 
thrust of the Kerner Commission Report) while others were clearly "nega- 
tive" (i.e., in opposition to the Commission's recommendations concerning the 
welfare system) . 

Among the "positive" pieces of legislation which passed was a bill which 
permits the Department of Public Aid to disregard the loan value of any 
insurance policy held by an applicant; legislation empowering the Depart- 
ment of Children and Family Services to make grant-in-aid payments to local 
governmental units and other nonprofit bodies which provide day care ser- 
vices; a bill which extends eligibility for education and training programs to 
persons who qualify for medical assistance; and a bill which extends eligibility 
for the ADC program to children placed in foster care by order of the Juvenile 
Court. In the area of medical services, legislation was passed to provide 
hearing tests for all school or day care children (effective September 1, 1970) . 

"Positive" bills which did not pass the 76the General Assembly included 
legislation which would have created a legislative commission to study the 
feasibility of supplying birth control services to women on public assistance, 
would have added four recipients to the Board of Public Aid Commissioners, 
would have increased AFDC and General Assistance grants to specified 
federal standards, and would have authorized the Department of Public 


Aid to assist in a recipient's defense in an eviction action resulting from rent- 
withholding by the department. 

A number of "negative" bills were introduced, but not passed. One pro- 
posed bill would have limited aid payments to a recipient who had lived in 
Illinois less than one year. Another would have required general assistance 
recipients to accept suitable work. A third bill would have denied aid to 
applicants who were found to have entered Illinois for the purpose of re- 
ceiving aid. The most noteworthy legislation in this category was a bill 
introduced by Speaker of the House (now U. S. Senator) Ralph Smith which 
would have cut welfare payments by 30 per cent. This brought Rev. Jesse 
Jackson and some 2,000 welfare recipients to Springfield to protest, Jackson 
made unscheduled speeches before the Illinois House and Senate and packed 
the galleries in the House chambers. The Governor then opposed the measure 
and Smith's bill was tabled. 

Civil Rights. As was previously noted, there were a number of bills intro- 
duced in the 76th General Assembly dealing with some kind of "open housing" 
law. None was successful. A bill which would have made the birthday of 
Dr. Martin Luther King a legal holiday was vetoed by the Governor, but 
legislation which designated Dr. King's birthday as a school commemorative 
day was passed and signed by the Governor. 

The "civil rights" bills which passed the General Assembly provided for 
an authorization to municipalities to promulgate regulations or establish 
various programs to bring about improved racial and ethnic group relations 
and a prohibition against any rules or regulations which result in discrimina- 
tion in medical insurance policies governing the reimbursement for physicians' 

Among the bills which failed to pass was one which would have broadened 
the types of employment discrimination prohibited in contracts for public 
buildings; another would have created a type of omnibus Fair Practices 
Commission to investigate all kinds of discrimination ; a third was designed to 
protect the civil rights of all persons to inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold, and 
convey real and personal property; and a fourth would have created a new 
Commission on Human Rights. There was also a series of bills (sponsored by 
the four black senators) which would have provided some protection to con- 
sumers in installment buying transactions. All of these bills were tabled in 
committee. There was also an interesting case of legislative inertia in the 
House. On April 28, 1969, the House adopted Bill HR-123 which set up a 
seven-member committee to determine the extent of hunger and malnutrition 
in the state and to report by June 2, 1969. The committee failed to conduct 
hearings — and failed to report. 

Employment. The 76th General Assembly dealt with a number of bills 
which fit under the rubric "employment." A vast proportion of these con- 

cerned such issues as collective bargaining for public employees, discrimination 
based on sex, and proper standards for employment of \vomen. Legislation 
dealing with the hard-core unemployed and changing the opportunity struc- 
ture in the state was almost nonexistent. One bill which did pass appropriated 
$15,000 to the Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC) to enforce 
laws prohibiting discrimination by anyone holding a state contract or by any 
labor organization having a collective bargaining agreement with anyone 
holding a state contract. 

Bills which would have established a minimum wage of $1.60 per hour, 
required political subdivisions to emplo)- former public aid recipients in 20 
per cent of their non-civil service positions, permitted departments of public 
aid to provide lists of recipients to private employers engaged in training 
programs, and provided for a program of new careers in state service for per- 
sons who might otherwise be public aid recipients were all tabled in commit- 
tees. Some of the black representatives in the House sponsored a series of bills 
which would have prevented a felony conviction from being an automatic 
bar to certification for certain professions licensed by the state. These bills 
passed the House but were stalled in the Senate. A similar fate awaited a 
possibly significant bill which would have given the state FEPC initiatory 
powers to investigate unfair labor practices. 

Government Restructuring. The General Assembly made some organiza- 
tional changes at the state, county, and local levels. At the state level, estab- 
lishment of the Bureau of the Budget and establishment of the Department of 
Local Government have been noted. The legislature also created the De- 
partment of Law Enforcement and the Department of Corrections. Both 
departments have absorbed some of the functions of the Department of Public 
Safety. The Department of Law Enforcement is most noteworthy for one 
of its divisions — the Illinois Bureau of Investigation ( IBI ) , patterned after 
the national FBI. The Department of Corrections is significant in that the 
bill which created it also provided for a full-time Parole and Pardon Board 
under its direction. The hope is that more equitable administration will re- 
sult from a full-time board. A bill which would have created the office of 
Ombudsman to be filled by the Lieutenant Governor was tabled in com- 
mittee. This bill would have given the office some investigatory powers. 

At the county level, a series of bills was passed which will eventually re- 
structure county boards (under township organization) to conform with 
recent "one-man, one-vote" decisions of the courts. One of the underlying 
assumptions in the "one-man, one-vote" decisions is that governing bodies 
chosen on that basis will be more responsive to the needs of urban areas. A 
bill which would have created a strong county executive form of government 
failed in the Senate. As was previously noted, efforts to authorize the creation 
of regional councils of government also failed. 

At the municipality level, one rather interesting alternative was added to 
the list of options available to city-manager forms of government. Prior to 
this legislative session, the statutes allowed the election of councilmen either 
from districts or on an at-large basis. Now, depending on the size of the 
community, the voters can elect some councilmen at large and some from 
districts. The Kerner Commission Report notes (at page 296) that at-large 
election systems tend to effectively disenfranchise minority groups. The ex- 
pectation is that, in those cities which choose to adopt this combination sys- 
tem, minority groups will more easily elect some of their own people to the 
city council. 

The exact relationship between these kinds of governmental reorganiza- 
tion schemes and improvement in the quality of life in the inner-city is far 
from clear. The departmental changes at the state level may very well have 
the effect of more efficient administration in certain functional areas. But, 
as the Kerner Commission Report points out (at p. 287, noting the rise of 
"efficient" managerial government and the corresponding demise of "ma- 
chine" politics), governmental efficiency does not necessarily mean govern- 
mental responsiveness — particularly responsiveness to the powerless groups 
in society. 

The changes noted at the county and city levels may have ramifications 
which are equally unclear. The expectations are that these changes will re- 
sult in greater minority group representation on county boards and city 
councils. However, historical examples of the ingenuity of those in power to 
turn apparent reform into mechanisms for maintainance of the status quo 
admonish one to adopt a "wait and see" attitude regarding the real effects 
of these changes. 


The major underlying assumption in this paper is that a state legislature, 
specifically the Illinois General Assembly, could legitimately be expected to 
respond, in some fashion, to the findings of the Kerner Commission Report. 
A review of the bills passed since the release of the Report forces one to 
conclude that legislative response was practically nonexistent. The most 
significant output from the General Assembly would include the state's 
revenue-sharing plan with local governments, urban property insurance 
legislation, an experimental junior college in East St. Louis with full state 
funding, and an expanded school lunch program. Other important legis- 
lation (with uncertain ramifications) would include the reporting of cases 
of malnutrition in children, efforts to curb "panic peddling" in racially 
changing neighborhoods, attempts to loosen the welfare system, and structural 
changes which may result in increased minority representation on some 
governing bodies. The only legislation which was clearly in direct response 

to the Kerner Commission Report was the bill on urban property insurance 
which followed some of the recommendations of the Commission's subcom- 
mittee on insurance. 

Why was there such meager response? This question immediately comes 
to mind after one compares the seriousness of the Kerner Commission findings 
with the output of the Illinois legislature. A complete analysis of legislative 
inertia would require another paper in addition to this one, but a few general 
remarks are in order. 

The legislative process in Illinois is a curious mixture of political culture, 
tradition, and partisanship with external pressures and internal structure. 

The Illinois General Assembly does not act — it reacts. Historically, most 
far-reaching proposals have had their origin outside the legislature. Governors, 
executive agencies, and lobbying groups have been the main sources of ideas.^^ 
But, since the release of the Kerner Commission Report, not one outside 
agency or group has come before the legislature with a broad program based 
on the Commission's findings. The one possible exception to this is the Wel- 
fare Council of Metropolitan Chicago (WCMC) which keeps a close watch 
over health and welfare legislation in Springfield. In fact, late in 1968 the 
Council issued a flyer entitled, "Where We Stand on Issues Raised by the 
Kerner Report." This was sent to legislators, but it had little or no effect. 
It was written in general language and was directed to all levels of govern- 
ment. No pressure group developed a program of specific pieces of legislation 
to which the state legislature could react. 

Nor did such a program come from the executive branch. Some piecemeal 
legislation, recommended by the various governors, did pass the legislature 
but, again, none presented a broad program based on Commission findings. 
In defense of the three governors, it should be noted that none of them had 
the luxury of a long tenure in which to develop far-reaching programs. 
Kerner became a judge shortly after the Commission's Report was issued, 
Shapiro faced an election campaign soon after taking office, and Ogilvie was 
forced to break in a new administration while facing a severe fiscal crisis 
culminating in the state's first income tax. Yet despite these explanations, 
the fact remains that the General Assembly had no gubernatorial program to 
which they could react. In their addresses and special messages, all three 
governors indicated a concern with the inner-city, with poverty, and with 
racial conflict. But, in general, these concerns remained at the level of rhetoric 
and were not really translated into policy output. 

Another important explanatory variable which should be used when 
analyzing Illinois legislative politics is the traditional conflict between Chicago 
and downstate. In general, downstate Republican suspicion of Chicago and 

"Samuel K. Gove, Reapportionment and The Cities (Chicago: Center for 
Research in Urban Government, Loyola University, No. 12, June, 1968), p. 31. 


Chicago Democratic suspicion of downstate is a consistent undercurrent 
in most legislative sessions. Illinois' unique system of cumulative voting 
guarantees that the parties will be closely divided in the House, although 
the Senate is normally heavily Republican. Cumulative voting is also an in- 
hibiting factor in statewide intra-party cohesion since in many districts, 
minority party candidates find themselves running against party colleagues. 
This kind of politics can split local party organizations. All in all, then, intra- 
party conflict (based to a large extent on geography) and intra-party an- 
tagonisms (based to a large extent on a unique selection system) combine to 
create a legislative setting which is not conducive to broad social reform. 
Under these circumstances, it would be surprising to see one of the political 
parties develop a broad program which related to the Kerner Commission 

In many respects, the Illinois legislature is a microcosm of the larger 
society. It is generally white, middle class, and well satisfied with the status 
quo. It responds to pressure — but to certain kinds of pressure. Pressure must 
be exerted in a legitimate manner and come from a legitimate source. Strong, 
well-funded lobbying groups enjoy a considerable amount of influence in the 
legislature. Unfortunately, civil rights groups do not enjoy a similar amount 
of legitimacy. And the effect is cyclical — civil rights groups do not see the 
Illinois legislature as an agent for social change. 

Given all these factors, what does one see when he examines the relation- 
ship between the Kerner Commission Report and the operation of the Illinois 
General Assembly? One sees a deliberative body which reacts; but one also 
sees an executive branch, a system of pressure groups, political parties, etc., 
which failed to present anything to which that deliberative body could react. 
The problem rests both in and out of the legislature. The legislature is guilty 
because it continues to operate under a system of reduced legislator visibility, 
consistent conflict, and inevitable compromise — a system in which organiza- 
tional maintenance becomes the primary goal. It continues to sanction a 
pressure-group system in which the legitimacy of the group is based on how 
strong and how middle class it is and not on the content of its position. Out- 
side institutions share equally in the problem because they understand the 
"rules of the legislative game" but are unwilling to make the necessary ad- 
justments to propose a system of human dignity.^* 

Three interesting and unusual events which took place during the 76th 
General Assembly provide some reason for hope. The convergence of Jesse 
Jackson (from Chicago) and the United Front delegation (from Cairo) on 
the General Assembly indicate that this kind of pressure can be successful. 

" These considerations, plus the normal conservatism of the Illinois legislature, 
provide some explanation for the defeat of certain individual "positive" bills. How- 
ever, the number of factors affecting the success or failure of any one bill may be 

Rev. Jackson (head of Operation Breadbasket) and his followers had some 
effect on the withdrawal of a bill to cut welfare payments by 30 per cent. A 
legislative commission was appointed to investigate the racial troubles in 
Cairo. One result was the repeal of an old Illinois law which gave legal status 
to vigilante groups. Further state involvment in the Cairo situation is 

The third phenomenon is perhaps the most promising. The 76th General 
Assembly was the scene of an emerging mobilization of black legislators. There 
were eighteen blacks in the General Assembly (fourteen in the House and 
four in the Senate) .^^ They began to vote together, to lobby together, to caucus 
together, and even to filibuster together. Although they maintained an interest 
in all civil rights legislation, they focused much of their energy on one issue 
— hiring more blacks in state government. They received support from the 
Governor, and a House committee was appointed to investigate the problem. 
This committee will report by the end of 1970. 

Black legislators and black pressure groups may combine to create a 
powerful coalition. They have begun to develop their own brand of legiti- 
macy and they are becoming increasingly aware of the "rules of the game." 
Strong political mobilization may be the key to unlock a previously tight 
legislative structure in Illinois. After all, political power is what the legislature 
understands best. 

^^ This represents the largest number of blacks in any state legislature in the 
country. Proportionately, however, the Senate (6.9 per cent) and the House (7.9 
per cent) fall below the proportion of state population classified as nonwhite (10.3 
per cent). 




The civil disorders that surfaced in major urban ghettos during the 1960's 
are symptomatic of social ills endemic to American society. The problems of 
our cities touch nearly every American and will require a national effort to 
remedy. Agreed on this diagnosis, the National Advisory (Kerner) Com- 
mission on Civil Disorders devotes some 30,000 words in its March, 1968, 
Report to recommendations for national action. Though local leaders and 
community institutions are charged with prime responsibility for dealing with 
the conditions that spawn riots, the authors of the Report are mindful of a 
substantial federal role. The commitment of massive national resources is 
a key ingredient in the Commission's prescription to heal urban problems. Only 
the investment of federal revenue is deemed adequate to meet the high costs 
of coping with unrest in the cities. The national leadership is enjoined to help 
generate the will and compassion of the nation's unions, churches, founda- 
tions, and universities in the undertaking. Toward these ends, the Kerner 
Report outlines a federal role that is less marked by novel approaches than by 
more earnest pursuit of goals already set, and by improved administration of 
programs already in force. 

The United States Congress is seldom addressed specifically in the Com- 
mission's recommendations. Even so, the Congress is implicated in virtually 
every proposal calling for national action. As guardian of the federal purse 
and spokesman for majority and minority interests, Congress is an indispensable 
partner in the business of shaping urban policies. In recognition of this fact, 
this essay examines the congressional response to the Kerner Report by tracing 
and accounting for the disposition in Congress of the Report^ recommenda- 
tions. The essay is divided into three sections. The first reviews the Report's 
explicit and implicit substantive demands on Capitol Hill legislators. We 
next survey legislative activities in the 19 months following March 1, 1968, 
for direct evidence of the Commission's contribution to the congressional 
product. A third section explores several explanations for the observed be- 
havior of the Congress and speculates on the future of the Kerner Report as 
a blueprint for legislation in the 1970's. The essay concludes with a considera- 
tion of the probable fate of welfare proposals introduced by the Nixon Ad- 
ministration in August, 1969. 

Chapter 17 of the Kerner Commission Report singles out employment, 
education, welfare, and housing for specific recommendations to national 
decision-makers. In the discussion below we concentrate on two of these 
problem areas, employment and welfare, and inventory those proposals that 
appear to be invitations to congressional action. Much of our presentation of 
the Commission's recommendations necessarily departs from the original text 
in order to draw out the implications for legislation. To illustrate the various 
forms a congressional response might take, we rely on our own notions of 
plausible actions as well as on suggestions contained in the Report. 

1. Congress is called upon to assure that there is a sustained emphasis on 
national economic growth. The Report is especially anxious to see newly 
trained and underemployed persons absorbed into the workforce at a higher 
rate. The Commissioners assume that an expanding economy can be kept 
from overheating and that Congress and the Administration will continue 
to follow an essentially Keynesian economic strategy. 

2. Congress is directed to encourage the creation of new jobs in both the 
public and private sectors of the economy. Over one million new jobs are 
requested in a three-year period for each sector. Congress is asked to increase 
shaqDly the amount reimbursed to employees who hire the otherwise unem- 
ployable and is requested to legislate tax credits for participating employers. 
The Report endorses such programs as the Neighborhood Youth Corps, the 
training of welfare recipients under AFDC, and retooling in the Manpower 
Development Training Act. Absent from the recommendations, however, is 
any suggestion that Congress consider WPA-style programs to create jobs for 
the hard core unemployed. 

3. The Report stresses the need for greater mobility within the public job 
structure. To accomplish this, Congress is asked to strengthen the staff, in- 
crease the resources, and expand the authorization of the Equal Employment 
Opportunities Commission. The Kerner Report recommends that federal, 
state, and local government be brought more effectively under the anti- 
discrimination provisions of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Interest- 
ingly, Congress is not asked to consider modifications in civil ser\'ice statutes 
as a means of providing more flexibility in some public employment categories. 

4. The Commission suggests that the Congress improve small business and 
entrepreneurial opportunities in urban and rural poverty areas by facilitating 
public and private investments. Specifically, Congress is called upon to con- 
sider increasing tax credits to business and to liberalize the current definition 
of "investment." The Report implies that the Congress should review those 
practices of the Small Business Administration and the Commerce Department 
aimed at stimulating business in depressed areas. 

5. The Report recommends that job training programs be complemented 


by better employment information for the newly trained worker. The experi- 
mental mobility program under the Manpower Development and Training 
Act is cited to illustrate ho\v the trained may be aided in finding jobs. 

Current welfare policies are characterized by the Commission as con- 
tributing to the social disorganization and helping to precipitate civil disorders. 
The Report found two general deficiencies in the prevailing \velfare s)stem: 
it fails to include many needy people who, if assisted, can become productive 
and self-sufficient; and it fails to establish adequate levels of assistance. An 
overhaul of the system is called for at the federal, state, and local levels. The 
Commission notes that without federal legislation no changes are probable, 
since better than 90 per cent of welfare pa^-ments across the country are fully 
or partially supported by national funds. 

1. The Report suggests that a minimum income standard be set for 
families covered by the Aid for Families of Dependent Children program. 
Congress is asked to consider that the "poverty level" be established at $3,335 
for a family of four, the standard employed by the Social Security Administra- 
tion. The amount, it is argued, should reflect variations in the cost of living 
in difTerent geographic areas. Additionally, federal legislators are advised to 
amend welfare legislation in order to increase the federal portion of AFDC 
monthly payments. 

2. Congress is asked to give permanent status to a provision in the 1961 
legislation making AFDC payments available to needy families with two un- 
employed parents. It is also recommended that this provision be mandatory in 
all states and that a broader definition of unemployment be uniformly adopted. 

3. The Commission favors job training for welfare recipients, though it 
suggests that women with "small" children should not be compelled to work 
in order to retain support. A recommendation is made that a 1967 law 
allocating funds for day care centers be expanded by Congress. The Report 
does not, however, explore the probable costs of a full-scale program. Also, 
the Commission requests that ^velfare recipients be allowed to retain a greater 
portion of any earned income. 

4. The federal government is asked to assume a larger portion of welfare 
costs. Municipal governments should be relieved from this obligation entirely. 
Elimination by Congress of a 1967 welfare freeze, scheduled to go into effect 
July, 1968, is vigorously urged in the Report. It is argued that the federal 
government should not, by restricting applicants, pass the financial burden to 
the states and localities. 

5. Congress is asked to separate the administration of AFDC from the 
general assistance to aid the aged and physically handicapped. The Com- 
mission suggests that legislation be \vritten to locate the latter assistance pro- 
grams in the Social Security Administration. 

6. Federal grants are requested for special neighborhood welfare centers 

and diagnostic clinics. Congress is called upon to aid the decentralization of 
sen-ices and programs. Many now under the Office of Economic Opportunity 
and the Department of Housing and Urban Development should be combined 
to create multipurpose neighborhood centers. Additionally, funds should be 
set aside to underwrite family planning programs. 

7. The Commission invites congressional consideration of a system of 
income supplements that would entitle eveiyone to a "minimal standard of 
decent living." The necessity of eligibility requirements would thus be 
eliminated. The Commission insists that there is no better means of breaking 
the circle of poverty and ending dependence on welfaie. Aside from recog- 
nizing the considerable costs of a basic family allowance, the Report makes 
no effort to spell out the details of such a proposal. Legislators are asked, 
however, to look for direction to the Model Cities Program and studies of the 
Commission on Income Maintenance Programs. 

In sum, the Commission outlines for Congress and the Executive branch a 
dual set of goals on welfare; some require only modest alterations in prevail- 
ing practices; others presuppose radical departures in policy. Overall, the 
Commissioners are anxious to have the federal government assume increased 
responsibilities for all welfare pa)ments and to extend the coverage to larger 
numbers of people. Beyond new legislation. Congress is expected to prod 
federal administrators and policy-makers in the states. 

The tenor of the congressional reaction to the preceding recommendations 
is best revealed by a survey of the day-to-day business of the Congress. Ac- 
cordingly, in this section ^ve catalogue and annotate Senate and House com- 
mittee deliberations and floor actions on emplo\-ment and welfare policy in 
the months following the Report. Our information comes mainly from the 
Congressional Quarterly, Weekly Reports for the period beginning March 1, 
1968, and extending through the 31st of September, 1969. This review of 
events is by no means fully comprehensive. Very likely, Congressional Quar- 
terly chose not to report every floor and committee action of possible inclusion 
here. Also, in perusing the Weekly Reports, we may have inadvertently passed 
over floor votes, hearings, or reports that belong in our review. Even so, this 
accounting of the fate of the Commission's proposals in sessions of the 90th 
and 91st Congresses should readily identify the focus and the depth of con- 
gressional interest in emplo)ment and welfare problems. 

A. Employment : Floor Action 

1. Federal assistance for state vocational rehabilitation programs for the 
disadvantaged. Final approval in both houses of a 1.4 billion appropria- 
tion for fiscal years 1969-71, first week of August, 1968. 

2. Senate rejection of resolution asking the Nixon Administration to defer 
the closing of 59 Job Corps centers, May 13, 1969. 

B. Employment : Committee Action 

1. Hearings held on job opportunities for the poor. Consideration of two 
bills to authorize 2.8 billion for a t^\o-year emergency program. Bills not 
supported by the Johnson Administration. Senate Labor and Public Wel- 
fare Committee, April 1, 3, and 5, 1968. Hearings suspended in the House. 

2. Senate Labor and Public Welfare Committee reported a bill to 
strengthen the authority of the Equal Emplo^-ment Opportunities Com- 
mission to act against discrimination by employees or unions, May 8, 1968. 

3. House Education and Labor Committee reported a bill to extend the 
basic provision of the Manpower Development and Training Act of 1962, 
June 27, 1968. Similar action by the Senate L. and P.W. Committee, 
July 20, 1968. Neither bills were as comprehensive as those urged by the 
Kemer Commission. The Johnson Administration had requested simple 
extension of the 1962 Act. 

4. Report of the Joint Economic Committee on urban manpower and em- 
ployment, based directly on the recommendations of the Kemer Report. 
Hearings held May 28, 29, June 4, 5, and 6, 1968. The Joint Committee 
broadly agreed with the Kemer recommendations, but offered no specific 
legislation to implement such goals as job training, less job discrimination, 
and the revitalization of central cities. 

Informal hearings conducted by several major city congressmen to hear 
charges of job discrimination in the Civil Service and by federal con- 
tractors, December 3-5, 1968. 

6. Hearings held on economic development of depressed areas by House 
PubHc Works Committee, April 15-17, 1969. 

7. Senate L. and P.W. Committee asked for a Senate resolution request- 
ing the Nixon Administration to defer closing of Job Corps Centers, 
April 28, 1969. 

8. Hearings held by Senate Finance Committee on increasing incentives 
for industry to locate in rural areas, May 21-23, 1969. 

9. Hearings held on Small Business Administration loan policies in urban 
areas by the Senate Select Committee on Small Business, June 10-12, 1969. 

10. Report issued by the House and Senate Public Works Committee to 
extend and expand the manpower development and other programs of 
the Appalachia Regional Commission, June 30, 1969. 

11. Hearings held on migrant and seasonal farm labor problems by the 
Senate L. and P.W. Committee, June 9-10, July 15-17, 1969. 

C. Welfare: Floor Action 

1. Approval given for increased authorization for Food Stamp program 
through 1970. Senate, September 26, 1968. House, September 25, 1968. 
Senate doubled authorization for fiscal 1970, June 24, 1969. 

2. Passage of appropriation of federal funds for work incentive program 
for persons under AFDC. The same bill appropriated funds for the Office 
of Economic Opportunity below the request of the Johnson Administration. 

3. House passed a bill to establish a Presidential Commission to study 
hunger and malnutrition in the United States, July 15, 1968. 

4. Authorization given for $9 million for fiscal year 1969 and $15 million 
in 1970 for grants to public and private health services to agricultural 
migratory workers. Action taken in both houses, October 1, 1968. 

5. Amendments to Older Americans Act of 1965 passed. People over 60 
permitted to offer supportive services in day care centers for children from 
poor families and to assist in hospitals or homes for dependent or neglected 
children. Action taken in both houses, October 3, 1968. Older Americans 
Act extended through fiscal 1972 in the Senate, August 13, 1969. 

6. Welfare freeze repealed by both houses, June 30, 1969. Congress acted 
in response to pressures from state and local government which would have 
assumed greater welfare costs if the freeze on new recipients went into 
effect, as scheduled, on July 1 . 

7. Passage of extension of the deadline for states to establish compre- 
hensive health care programs from 1975 to 1977, June 30, 1969. On the 
same day. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, Robert Finch, 
announced a reduction in the federal contribution to Medicaid payment 
to doctors. 

D. Welfare: Committee Action 

1. Hearings conducted on food assistance programs for the needy by the 
House Education and Labor Committee, May 21, 1968. 

2. Hearings held on several bills to extend and expand the Food Stamp 
program. House Agriculture Committee, June 11-13, 1968. Report to ex- 
pand programs, July 2, 1968. Testimony given on amendments to the 
Food Stamp program. Senate Agriculture Committee, May 22-23, 26, 27, 
1969. Senate Agriculture Committee rejected proposal for free stamps, 
July 1, 1969. House hearings held on food stamps, September 3, 1969. 

3. A report issued calling for income support for the elderly and for 
families with unemployable heads. A negative income tax suggested by 
the Senate L. and P.W. Subcommittee on Employment, Manpower, and 

4. Hearings conducted on problems of hunger and malnutrition by a 


Senate Select Committee headed by Senator George McGovern, January 
8-10, 22, 23, February 18, May 7, July 9-11, 15, 17, 18, 22-24, 25, 28, 
1969. Committee Report on August 7, 1969. 

5. Hearings held before the House Committee on Education and Labor on 
proposals to authorize an extension of programs under OEO Act of 1964, 
March 24, April 16-19, 21, 1969. Committee consideration of Adminis- 
tration's decision to close Job Corps centers, April 14, 1969. Senate hear- 
ings by L. and P.W. Committee on OEO programs, April 18, 23-25, May 
8,^1969. Continued House hearings, April 21-24, 29, 30, May 1, 5-9, 1969. 
Consideration given to malnutrition in House Committee, May 21, 23, 
1969. Nixon Administration requested a two-year extension rather than 
the three- or five-year extensions proposed by House Committee members. 
House hearings, June 2, 4-6, 1969. 

6. Hearings held on provisions of tax reform bill designed specifically to 
give a greater tax break to low-income families, by House Ways and Means 
Committee, April 1, 2, 3, 14, 1969. On April 12, President Nixon sent a 
tax message to Congress that proposed exempting from all federal in- 
come tax those families (of four) with incomes under $3,500 a year. 

7. Hearings conducted on medical costs and abuses by Senate Finance 
Committee, July 1, 2, 1969. 

8. Hearings held on equal employment opportunities by Senate Labor and 
Public Welfare Subcommittee on Labor. Proposals made to strengthen 
the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, August 11, 12, 1969. 

The preceding inventory of legislative activity amply documents the con- 
tinued concern of Congress with employinent and welfare matters in the 
post-Report period. The record in fact indicates several committee studies 
and hearings addressed directly to the Kerner Report recommendations. The 
removal by Congress of a freeze on welfare enrollment, its action to enlarge 
the food stamp program, and its passage of legislation expanding the federal 
contribution to vocational rehabilitation programs are in step with the Com- 
mission proposals, though not necessarily inspired by the Report. In the areas 
of education and housing, the 90th Congress moved toward implementing the 
Report's recommendations by the approval of higher education and open 
housing bills. All this notwithstanding, the 19-month progress report of the 
Kerner Commission in Congress is a dismal one. Only a fraction of the Com- 
mission's proposals received consideration on Capitol Hill, and still fewer 
found their way into public policy. Such key Commission recommendations as 
an intensive effort to upgrade the literacy of ghetto residents, or the expansion 

and reorientation of public housing, fell on totally deaf congressional ears. 
In sum, there is little evidence that the Report charted new directions for 
the nation's lawmakers. 

This curious species of congressional oversight admits to no single set of 
explanations. The callous indifference to the Report by President Johnson 
unquestionably dimmed prospects for the recommendations in the 90th Con- 
gress. A fuller explanation for the Report'?, weak impact requires, however, 
some examination of the procedures, the dominant values, and the centers 
of power within Congress. It is also necessary to ask whether the release time 
of the Report in the political climate of 1968 and 1969 had not ruled out a 
more favorable congressional response. Finally, it may be possible to fault the 
Report as a strategic document. We suspect that, by its makeup and the task 
assigned the Commission, it was a poor bet to gain an early or sympathetic 
hearing in the Congress. 

A significant feature of the Kerner Report is the scope of its recommenda- 
tions. The remarkable insight and thoroughness of its inquiry into the crisis 
of the cities led to proposals on a broad legislative front. But these requests 
were addressed to an institution poorly equipped to deal with omnibus de- 
mands. More accustomed to stop-gap legislating, a departmentalization of 
effort, and incrementalism in policy, the Congress could promise no systematic 
treatment of the problems identified by the Commission. In this respect, the 
Congress has changed very little from the late Nineteenth Century when 
Woodrow Wilson gained scholarly prominence by calling attention to the near 
sovereignty of standing committees and the resulting absence of coordinated 
policy-making. By conservative estimate, at least ten committees of the 90th 
Congress could claim jurisdiction over legislation suggested by the Kerner 
Report. At best, the Commission could hope for a willingness to weigh its 
findings by pivotal members of the House and Senate. 

Aside from an undistinguished report by the Joint Economic Committee, 
testimony on hunger and malnutrition before a Select Senate Committee, and 
several hearings conducted by the Senate Labor and Public Welfare Commit- 
tee, the committees of both houses of Congress were largely oblivious to the 
Commission's Report. Committee chairmen were, on the whole, conspicuous 
in their coolness toward the Report, and the elected leaders of Congress were 
apparently no more inclined to take cues from the Kerner proposals. The 11- 
man Commission had included five incumbent members of Congress (and 
former Congressman John Lindsay) ; yet none occupied a position of wide 
legislative influence on Capitol Hill. None chaired either a committee or a 
subcommittee, and none held a congressional party leadership post. Represen- 
tative William McCuUoch, ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, 
was alone in a position to claim extended experience shaping major domestic 


The seniority leadership of Congress had strong political motives for avoid- 
ing close identification with the Commission's ideas. Nearly all the chairmen 
in the House are elected from Southern or equally safe enclaves in major 
Northern cities. The Commission's best publicized conclusion, that white 
racism was at the root of the nation's urban racial tensions, was not tailored to 
win over legislators of either category. Metropolitan area Democrats from 
racially insulated white districts might be prepared to vote for Commission- 
inspired legislation, but many were clearly hesitant to endorse a Report that 
their constituents might interpret as justifying the violence of Newark and 
Detroit. Southern chairmen would be obliged to accept the indictment that 
se\'eral Southern states had failed to meet their full responsibility for educa- 
tional opportunities and social services. More than one Kemer recommenda- 
tion would have the effect of coercing state participation in federally sup- 
ported programs. 

More straightforward motives undercut support for the Report among 
many rank and file congressmen. The Kerner recommendations were easily 
viewed as class legislation. Namely, black America was designated as the 
prime, or at least the most visible, recipient of any federal generosity. The 
Commission's admonition that the crisis of the cities would intensify in the 
face of national inaction was viewed by some legislators as a form of black- 
mail against the middle-class white taxpayer. In contrast to earlier efforts on 
behalf of blacks, when the acceptance of directives by southern officials defined 
progress, civil rights in the late 1960's were more expensively purchased. The 
second generation of rights legislation in Congress was necessarily more eco- 
nomic and social than political, and the North would carry most of the burden. 
The anti-inflationary mood that reached the Congress by 1968 armed many 
lawmakers with welcomed justification for deferring new programs for the 
poor and underemployed. In these circumstances. Great Society legislation 
was also threatened. 

In great measure the legislative prescriptions offered by the Commission 
belong to a category of policy temperamentally disturbing for the Congress. 
The nation's lawmakers prefer legislation whose benefits are largely calculable. 
Whereas subsidies to industry or for farm commodities can usually be evaluated 
against the intended results, programs for the underprivileged typically defy 
direct measurement. Experience with social welfare programs have apparently 
convinced legislators that, much like aid to developing nations, evidence of 
accomplishments is usually elusive. When, for example, is the poverty cycle 
broken and when is an acceptable level of adequate housing attained? Even 
some of the more obvious yardsticks, such as employment figures, often turn 
out to be misleading. As a result, the Congress finds it difficult to remain 
committed to heavy expenditures for urban programs over an extended period 
of time. Disappointments with several Great Society programs had already 


eroded congressional support. To be sure, the Kerner Report recommenda- 
tions could always be measured by their contribution to reducing the potential 
for civil disorders. But for the present, Congress was more likely to opt for a 
less expensive approach to stemming riots. It is hardly surprising, then, that 
the most noteworthy response of Congress to the "hot" summer of 1967 was to 
pass the Crime Control Act of 1968. 

The Commission's congressional score card might conceivably have been 
improved by a more calculated legislative strategy. The Report, for example, 
gives little recognition of the realities of gaining majorities in Congress for 
individual recommendations. Requests that involve only the extension or 
expansion of existing programs are not distinguished from policies encom- 
passing more radical innovations. Increased funding for the rent supplement 
program or a provision for below-market interest rates to stimulate low-rent 
housing are recommended in the same fashion as a call for a redirection of 
urban renewal and public housing policies. Though all are within the com- 
petence of the Congress, the Report takes no account of the probable matura- 
tion time required before some goals are accepted by the Congress and the 
public. Nor does the Report bother, in most cases, to specify the kind of legis- 
lation necessary to implement its more far-reaching objectives. The Commis- 
sion thus failed to convey the real separability of proposals or a sense of 
priority among them. To these self-imposed handicaps, must be added the 
unfortunate, though unavoidable, release time of the Report. The legislative 
schedule of Congress was already well set by March 1 . Worse yet, the recom- 
mendations came to a Congress seeking to adjourn early for the fall presi- 
dential campaign. Only a sense of high urgency conveyed from the White 
House could perhaps have commanded greater attention among congressmen 
for the Report. 

To a contemporary Congress that waits for the President to fill much of 
its legislative agenda, Lyndon Johnson's icy silence was decisive. Unless a 
President is prepared to engage his prestige and resources in the Congress, 
little important domestic legislation is likely to clear the plentiful congressional 
hurdles. Certainly, then, while Johnson remained President, it was doubtful 
that the Commission work would become a focal point of legislation. Evi- 
dently, both the rhetoric of the Kerner Commission Report and a number of 
its recommendations were embarrassing to the Administration. Johnson had 
directed the bipartisan Commission: "Let your search be free. ... As best you 
can find the truth and express it in your report." Yet the President apparently 
did not anticipate a report that would reach such disturbing conclusions. The 
Commission had, after all, found that national and local leadership failed to 
come to grips with the causes of urban tensions. Despite the sincerity of 
Lyndon Johnson's fight for federal civil rights legislation and antipoverty 
programs, America's black and white society were observed as further polar- 


izing. The batteiy of Commission recommendations for national action in 
many instances went far beyond similar proposals introduced to Congress by 
the Johnson Administration. To now champion a more ambitious and mili- 
tant set of proposals was as risky as it was impractical. Administration endorse- 
ment of a report critical of the white middle class was doubtful strategy in an 
election year when George Wallace threatened to draw away resentful Demo- 
cratic voters. The Administration also stood to endanger its own modest 
legislative program if it distracted Congress with the Report. The composition 
and mood of Congress had changed markedly since 1965-66. The strengthened 
conseivative coalition in the House was certain to deny the Administration any 
legislative kudos. 

By March, 1968, Viet Nam and not the streets of Newark or Detroit 
occupied center stage for the President and most other white Americans. 
Eugene McCarthy's New Hampshire performance was still a stinging memory 
for Johnson, and Robert Kennedy was gaining momentum as a challenger 
for the Democratic nomination. The senators' opposition to Johnson's war 
policies was a token of the shift of militant antiwar sentiment from the New 
Left to the broad Liberal Establishment. Significantly, it was spokesmen of 
the Democrats' Liberal wing who led the praises for the Kerner Report early 
in March. Whatever the President's renomination plans, he clearly was of no 
mind to put aside foreign policy differences with his critics in order to join 
hands in a renewed crusade against poverty and injustice. 

Once Johnson on March 31 indicated his intention not to seek renomina- 
tion, he also abdicated any possible future role in fostering the Kerner re- 
commendations in Congress. With a successor only ten months away, there 
was little enthusiasm among legislators, even friends of the Report, for im- 
mediate consideration of specific Commission requests. The new President 
would be given an opportunity to shape his requests. Plainly, the Report 
would experience a strong revival if Robert Kennedy were elected that Novem- 
ber. Many legislators were also content to defer action until the election re- 
sults gave some sense of public mood in dealing with urban violence. 

The comparatively "cool" ghetto summer of 1968 (and then 1969) 
lessened the sense of urgency the Commission had tried to convey in its 
Report. The largely pacified black communities strengthened arguments that 
violence could be contained by more vigorous and intelligent law enforce- 
ment. Whatever the truth to observations that black-white relations were 
continuing to deteriorate, black leaders appeared anxious to avoid further 
confrontation of the sort that gutted black neighborhoods in Washington, 
D.C., Detroit, and Watts. These developments, in effect, removed the sense 
of crisis that so often leads the Congress to override its natural biases against 
upsetting the status quo. The violence that did occur in 1968 and 1969 took 
the form of dramatic individual acts or was centered on college campuses. 

Neither class of event was likely or hasten the attention of Congress to educa- 
tion, employment, housing, and welfare policies envisioned by the Kemer 

Little that occurred in the 1968 election campaign gave notice that the 
Report would become a touchstone for domestic policies in the 91st Congress. 
The Republican platform failed to mention either the Kemer Commission or 
the OEO by name. At times, candidate Hubert Humphrey alluded to the 
Report's recommendations, but Richard Nixon as a campaigner ignored the 
Report. Few congressional candidates, moreover, featured an endorsement 
of the Commission's work in their campaigns. The national results, in them- 
selves, predicted a cool reception for the Report in the next Congress. The 
election strengthened the ranks of conservative Republicans, especially in the 
House; and continued Democratic control of both houses assured no change 
of seniority leadership. Equally important, since majorities in the nation's 
major cities had rejected the Republican ticket, Nixon incurred no election 
debts to urban blacks. And a post-election as well as a pre-election "Southern 
strategy" militated against efforts to conciliate big-city blacks. 

President Nixon's first seven months in office were notable for his few 
requests to Congress for new domestic programs. Advocates of the Commis- 
sion's Report were instead engaged in several defensive battles. For high on 
the White House's list of objectives was the stripping of all operating re- 
sponsibilities from the Office of Economic Opportunity and the transfer of 
these functions to old-line departments. More immediately, some programs, 
particularly the legal service to the poor, were to be placed under the veto 
of state governors. On the education front, the Nixon Administration sought, 
until blocked by the Supreme Court, to delay Southern school desegregation 
deadlines. Conser\'ative monetary policies and a trim domestic budget were 
signs that the President hoped to cut back the funding on many current 
poverty programs. The Administration's decision to fight inflation with in- 
creased unemployment also carried a rejection of the Commission's proposals. 
The President's economic advisors were apparently prepared to accept the 
lay-off of newly trained or marginally employed blacks. Against this back- 
ground, the Administration brought about a drastic reduction of Job Corps 
centers. To some of these policies the Congress gave its tacit consent; for 
others its active approval was required; in a few instances it refused to go 

On the brighter side of the ledger, several bills that followed the spirit if 
not exactly the letter of the Kemer recommendations seemed likely of passage 
by the end of the first session of the 91st Congress. Interestingly, nearly all 
had the backing of the Nixon Administration. Legislation to expand the bene- 
fits and coverage of employment insurance cleared the House in mid-Novem- 
ber. The House Labor and Education Committee reported a bill in early 


November, already passed by the Senate, to extend programs under the Eco- 
nomic Opportunity Act of 1964. By late October the House had passed by a 
lopsided vote a housing and urban development bill that continued funding 
for urban renewal and Model Cities. A more generous Senate version, passed 
earlier in the month, also included rent supplement funding and a new pro- 
gram of public housing rental assistance. By December both houses ^vere also 
well on their way toward agreement on a comprehensive tax reform bill that 
would remove many low-income families from the federal tax rolls. The 
House Ways and Means Committee began hearings in November on legis- 
lation to hike social security benefits. In other testimony before this Commit- 
tee, a radically new welfare proposal came under consideration. More than 
any other legislation before the 91st Congress, this proposal contained the 
kind of full commitment envisioned by the Kemer Commission. 

On August 2, 1969, President Nixon unveiled his long-heralded welfare 
report. In its broad outlook the President's proposed revision of the nation's 
welfare system bore some resemblance to the Kemer recommendations. The 
Nixon plan recognized the need to establish a minimum family assistance 
for all Americans. Additionally, it encouraged emplo\-ment by providing a 
sliding scale of supplementary' income for the working poor. The President's 
program stressed the need to lighten the financial burden now weighing so 
heavily on the states and localities and, accordingly. Congress was asked for 
an additional $4 billion federal expenditure on welfare. The Administration 
and Commission plans thus almost converge on the idea that a thorough 
overhaul of the welfare system should begin with a uniform national standard 
of eligibility. 

In some significant respects, however, the Nixon plan clearly departs 
from the Kemer recommendations. Constrained by their budget, the Ad- 
ministration sets an income floor at $1,600 for a family of four, or less than 
half of the amount suggested by the Commission. No consideration is made, 
moreover, for geographic variations in cost of living, except as the states may 
provide in their contribution. Mothers of school-aged children are obliged, 
under the Administration proposal, to accept training or employment or 
jeopardize all benefits. To accomplish this, the NLxon plan seeks additional 
child day care centers and job training programs to be administered \vholIy 
by the states and localities. Meanwhile, the Office of Economic Opportunity 
would be reduced in authorit)' to a "laboratory agency," limited to the re- 
search of new ideas to eliminate poverty. Also attached to the welfare pro- 
posal is the Administration's "New Federalism," a revenue-sharing plan de- 
signed to furnish the states block grants with no strings attached. 

The Nbcon welfare proposals face an uncertain future in the Congress. 
Initial congressional reaction was generally supportive. Yet in the weeks 
and months since the President's speech, the sources of opposition and the 

grounds for objection have become more readily identified. Among the first 
to demur on the Nixon plan were the welfare rights organizations from the 
larger industrial states. They point out, and their congressmen and senators 
have taken up the complaint, that in hard cash terms the new plan sets 
basic allotments that are well below current monthly benefits. For the ghetto 
dweller in the North it will be of small improvement that the federal contri- 
bution to the state will increase slightly if his own benefits remain the same 
and he faces coercive pressures to accept a job. Only in states with low aver- 
age monthly payments will the federal minimum assistance substantially im- 
prove the lot of the poor. In a final vote, however, most major city legislators 
may be expected to go along with the revisions, even at the presently proposed 
level of minimum family assistance. Once on the books and with the prin- 
ciple of federal responsibility firmly established, these congressmen can work 
to revise the formula for better treatment of the urban North. 

Even while the largest increase in federal benefits would go to the South, 
Southern Democratic members of Congress cannot be counted as sure votes 
for the Nixon plan. Many will find it highly unpopular to vote large sub- 
sidies to rural blacks. Furthermore, any substantial improvement in the living 
standard of these blacks poses a direct threat to traditional Democratic poli- 
tical ascendancy in many areas of the South. To move impoverished blacks 
away from the subsistence level is to further undermine the politics of def- 
erence and fear that for so long kept blacks from the polls and out of the 
social life of their community. Southern Republican politicians might wel- 
come action that could conceivably drive white Southern voters into the Re- 
publican party. Still, they may ponder whether aid to the Southern blacks 
might not revive a formidable loyalist Democratic party of blacks and whites. 

Republican loyalists in the Congress would seem to be the front line of 
support for the Administration's welfare proposals. Yet the strong economy- 
mindedness of Republican legislators may lead some of them into the opposi- 
tion camp. These legislators will probably stand with the Administration 
under only two conditions. The first is that the revenue-sharing plan remain 
a feature of the welfare legislation shaped in Congress. The Administration 
itself could defer this program should, for example, military spending continue 
to make heavy demands on the federal budget. A second contingency rests 
with the legislative leadership skills of the President which, until now, have not 
been impressive. Unless he is as convincing to Congress in 1970 as he was to 
the American public in August of 1968, many Republican congressmen and 
senators will prefer to reduce and not expand welfare coverage. The Presi- 
dent's most formidable task will be to persuade his fellow partisans that un- 
less the current tensions of the welfare system are checked, the repercussions 
may be felt well beyond the ghettos and depressed naral areas. 

It is obviously too premature for a final evaluation of the Kerner Report 


in Congress. The 19-month progress sheet \vas disappointing, but there was 
little reason to believe that the legislative process could be induced to move 
with greater dispatch. The apparent willingness of the 91st Congress to ex- 
periment with urban housing programs, its insistence that antipoverty pro- 
grams be sustained, and its hard look at welfare reform give some cause for 
optimism. All the same, it seems safe to conclude that the ambitious attack 
on urban problems outlined in the Report is far from realization. The Report 
will, in all likelihood, be a poor reference to legislation in the 1970's. The 
lasting effect of the Commission's work may be its documentation of the vio- 
lent events of 1967 and its discussions of their origins. In a search for solu- 
tions, however, the Report has probably kept alive the idea that these prob- 
lems can yield to our will and ingenuity, and that our system of government 
has the capacity to resolve them. This contribution may turn out to be a 
notable legacy. 



The future of race relations in the United States is problematic. The Na- 
tional Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (the Kemer Commission) 
described a society increasingly divided into two parts, separate and unequal. 
The black portion of this society, no longer accepting either the justice or the 
inevitability of its condition, is likely to exhibit mounting impatience, aliena- 
tion, and in its militants, particularly its militant young, a resort to measures 
of desperation. Whites, alarmed at black and white youth, particularly cam- 
pus confrontation tactics, and well-nigh panicked by fear of mounting street 
crime, are more and more inclined to turn from moderate and civil libertarian 
solutions to police measures that they hope may restore their sense of security 
and uphold conventional values. Neither blacks nor whites seem to have 
reached the point of no return. But the drift course seems ominous. 

The Kemer Commission called for a massive program of government 
action to reverse the slide into separate hostile societies which its Report 
documented. Urban America, Inc., and the Urban Coalition produced a 
follow-up report entitled. One Year Later, An Assessment of the Nation's 
Response to the Crisis Described by the National Advisory Commission on 
Civil Disorders. This report documents that not only President Johnson, who 
appointed the Kerner Commission, but the nation and the subsequent Ad- 
ministration have failed to take it seriously. While the Kemer Commission's 
Report has sold many volumes and had a good press, it has failed to set in 
motion sustained political action of a character at all commensurate with the 
gravity of the nation's peril which the Report recites or the magnitude of 
the measures the Report finds necessary to meet that peril. The conduct of 
the Commission, and perhaps to a lesser extent the Commission's staff sub- 
sequent to the issuance of the Report, seems peculiarly uncalculated to con- 
vince their apathetic countrymen of the Commission's serious conviction of 
the gravity of the country's and their own danger. In this the Kerner Com- 
mission and its Report do not differ from a tradition of government report- 

With much that is sound and highly valuable, though by no means new 
in the Report, what emerged to the public as its essential message and diagnosis 
was "white racism" as the cause of the evil and the cancer whose removal was 


a condition precedent to the curing of the ills of a "sick" society. There is a 
great popular attraction to diagnosing social problems as being due to sin 
and human wickedness. It has enormous appeal to the theologically inclined 
and the militant young. To proclaim wickedness and cast out devils is an 
ancient technology. We have used it with plagues, droughts, and even as late 
as 1929 with business depressions. However satisfying to those who get their 
kicks out of blame-placing or guilt feelings, it is a poor substitute for a com- 
petent social science. It is all too likely to lead to useless wallowing in guilt 
and moralizing instead of effective social action. 

Tom Wicker, in his introduction to the New York Times edition of the 
Kerner Report, says, "This report can only provide, as its profoundly dis- 
turbed authors concede, 'an honest beginning' on a task that beggars any 
other planned social evolution known to human history." Neither Wicker nor 
the Commission suggests the political means by which this planned social 
evolution is to be achieved. This is another characteristic of report-writing, 
to call for programs that admittedly require revolutionary change without 
facing up to the political feasibility of such change. In fact. Wicker sees the 
political problem as a vicious circle in which you have to get rid of "white 
racism" to have the program and you have to have the program to get rid 
of "white racism." While Wicker concedes, with President Kennedy, that a 
journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, the concentration on the 
thousand miles is likely to make one or even quite a few steps seem so slight as 
to be scarcely worth taking. There is a well-nigh irresistible tendency to 
depreciate advances that are quite substantial in terms of past performances 
of the economy by measuring them against what may be Utopian yardsticks. 
As the A. F. of L. and C. I. O. point out in their publication, The National 
Economy 1969, "The unemployment rate for nonwhite adult men fell from 
9.6 per cent in 1960 to 3.9 per cent in 1968." Again they show that "the 
median income on nonwhite families rose from $3,233 in 1960 to $5,141 in 
1967, the most recent available information — up from 55 per cent of the 
median income of white families in 1960 to 62 per cent in 1967. A substantial 
gap in family incomes, but it was narrowing." 

If one looks at the Labor Department figures that make it appear "that 
it requires well over $9,000 a year to maintain a four-person family at merely 
a modest standard of living, with few luxuries in urban areas," this does not 
seem much to brag about. However, if we note that "the average non- 
supervisory worker in private employment in June, 1969, earned $115.06 — 
with three dependents, his after-tax take-home pay was $100.34," this gain 
takes on a significant comparative perspective. Looking at desirable goals or 
sympathetically stated needs, we may be led to unduly depreciate accomplish- 
ment or, what is even more dangerous, to direct our attention away from 
practical measures because of their apparent inability to produce Utopian 


ends. The problem of stating goals in terms of needs rather than in terms 
of practically attainable objectives is well shown by Anthony Downs in his 
essay, "Moving Toward Realistic Housing Goals," contained in the Brookings 
Institution's volume. Agenda for the Nation. Downs makes the point forcefully 
that the Johnson housing goals of 26 million units in ten years, while justified 
in terms of needs, are radically unfeasible unless we are prepared to devote as 
much energy to their attainment as we did to winning World War II. As 
Downs argues, the unrealism of these goals is likely to lead to cynicism and 
frustration on the part of those taking them seriously. Housing spokesmen, 
ho^\•ever, will say you have to radically o\-erstate goals to get anything. One 

Herman Miller, in his Rich Man Poor Man, pointed out the fallacy of 
those who, like Arthur Burns, had proclaimed a successful revolution in 
which poverty had been banished from American society. However, while 
Miller showed that Bums' revolution had expired some twenty or more years 
since, in the Eisenhower years, he made it clear that World War II and the 
Korean War had been the most successful years of Negro advance that we 
have seen and that the stagnation of the nation's growth in the Eisenhower 
epoch had been a disaster to Negroes. In some ways, since we should have 
known better than to permit it, it was even worse than the catastrophe of the 
Great Depression. The lesson of World War II, the Korean War, and the 
Eisenho^\■er years needs to be emphasized: a sustained high level of growth 
with a demand for labor on the part of employers that forces them to re- 
cruit the hard core, to redesign jobs, and to upgrade their present employees, 
creating an updraft of employability, has been our most effective means of 
bringing Negroes into the main stream. As Lee Rainwater has maintained, 
only a recurring experience of employment and its reinforcement has sho\\Ti 
much capacity of breaching the culture of poverty and shaping its members 
to continuous functioning in the main stream. What this suggests is that a 
full emplo)'ment policy is a major means of making progress in race 

It is little short of a tragedy that the inflation attendant on our attempting 
to fight a major \var with neither appropriate taxes nor price and wage con- 
trols has caused the adoption of a set of anti-inflation policies that are likely 
to set back both our Negro employment and housing objectives. If it is 
remembered that Negro unemployment, even in good times, is the equivalent 
of what would be regarded as unbearable depression by whites, one gets some 
sense of the probable impact of an anti-inflation policy designed to damp 
down the economy through unemplo)ment. Unless the ancient and proven 
rule that Negroes are the last to be hired and the first to be fired is 
miraculously disprov^ed in the present instance, current policies may well do 
incalculable damage to the efforts to increase Negro employinent. This is not 

only a serious matter for Negro adults but far more so for Negro youth. The 
A. F. L. and G. I. O. publication, The National Economy 1969, points out 
that "the unemployment rate among the rapidly growing number of non- 
white teenagers was 25 per cent in 1968 — slightly worse than in 1960." This 
is precisely the group from which many of the rioters were recruited and from 
which many of the militants and their support are drawn. Whatever one 
may think of the Cloward and Ohlin theory of delinquency and opportunity, 
the older nonsociological version, "the devil makes mischief for idle hands," 
has considerable force. To make emplo)TTient drastically difficult for the most 
Clime-prone element in the population and then counter the predictable re- 
sult by increasing the repressive power of the police seems only calculated to 
increase our difficulties. 

Prime interest rates of 8 per cent and sharply rising land costs are not 
only going to stifle any significant addition to moderate and low-income 
housing for the present, but they are likely to build into the economy a level 
of costs that \vill make well-nigh impossible of attainment do%\Ti-the-road 
housing goals. The attempt to pin the responsibility for high housing costs 
on labor, whatever its sins, when on-site labor costs, according to the Kaiser 
Commission, amounts to but 4-5 per cent of rental or sales housing costs, 
10 per cent if interest on the labor cost of the investment is considered, is 
clearly unwarranted. Since housing and emplo)Tnent are two of the most im- 
portant areas for the improvement of race relations, our inability' to follow 
a selective rather than a blunderbuss approach to inflation control may be 
the most serious threat to a practicable policy for the improvement of the 
Negro condition and race relations. It may also, by aggravating Negro youth 
unemplo)'ment and the disaffection of Negro youth, produce an increase in 
both crime and violence. The dangers of such an eventuality giving rise to a 
repressive police t)pe reaction by dominant elements in the white societ)- is 
already apparent. The violent conflict between Black Panthers and police are 
a preview of scenario foreseen in both the report of the Kemer Commission 
and Skolnick's, The Politics of Protest. 

Some who are impatient with recent progress may regard the likely re- 
sults of the anti-inflation policy as merely of a piece with what they regard 
as the failure of American society to carry out the massive programs recom- 
mended by the Kemer Commission. However, while the Kemer Commission 
calls for willingness on the part of the society to tax itself heavily to 
redistribute resources, a full employment policy and a selective policy of anti- 
inflation measures makes no such demand on public altruism, nor does it 
require the revolutionar)- politics that more than rhetorically revolutionary 
politics require if they are to be seriously pursued. 

One Year Later, the report of Urban America, Inc., and the Urban Coali- 
tion, makes clear that not much of the Kemer Commission's recommendations 

have been acted on. Indeed, in its macroscopic aspects a case can be made 
that the Negro condition has worsened rather than improved. It is frequently 
pointed out that schools are more segregated than before Brown v. the Board 
of Education and that housing is more segregated than before the open hous- 
ing legislation. In addition, it has to be recognized that while Negroes have 
improved their position absolutely, their relative position has failed to show 
equal improvement. It is in terms of the standards of the televised world of 
the dominant society that welfare is measured. Health indicators such as in- 
fant and maternal mortality sho\v a painful divergence between the perfor- 
mance of the two societies. Looking at the indicators of housing and education 
and those of relative deprivation, it might well seem that there was reason 
for despair and that the extremists who claim the system is radically in- 
corrigible have good reason for their view. 

Whether or not one takes such a view depends on whether one believes 
that the breaks that have occurred in the color bar are merely insignificant 
examples of tokenism or whether, on the contrary, one views these breaks as 
significant breaches that under favorable conditions will widen rapidly. The 
most prestigious institutions in the society — colleges, corporations, suburbs, 
governments — now have Negroes in them. The numbers may be small ; but 
small or not, they may be sufficient to erode the legitimacy of Negro exclusion 
in white as well as Negro eyes. This is certainly true among the elite of the 
young in the elite institutions. A black beauty queen candidate making it to 
the finals of a University of Alabama contest and to the suite of the queen 
can be seen as trivial or as highly consequential in the process of overcoming 
white color shock. Glazer and Mo)Tiihan, in Beyond the Melting Pot, saw 
the Negro as follo\ving with more difficulty the old ethnic trail. Charles Tilly 
and others have pointed to reasons for thinking the differences were more than 
those of degree. Hopefully this is not the case. If what the Kerner Commis- 
sion calls for is indeed necessary, it is probably beyond the power of American 
society as presently constituted. 

What is possible in the context of our existing society is a change in the 
elite-approved set of values. Looked at from the point of view of the massive 
govemmentally sponsored changes advocated by the Kerner Commission, 
the entrance of a few Negroes into elite positions in corporations, colleges, 
and suburbs may seem pitifully small. However, if this is viewed, not from 
a quantitative point of view, but from the qualitative one of a change in the 
social signalling system, its importance could far outweigh the numbers im- 
mediately involved. Integration at the bottom can occur by compulsion, under 
duress of either economic or political coercion, but integration at the top, 
even if small, can come from the moral suasion of the Kerner Commission and 
Tom Wicker's New York Times. Such integration as occurs by changing the 
S)Tnbols of legitimacy can have a profound impact if it is permitted to alter 


the existing slotting system of role allocation. Thirty years ago Orientals were 
at the bottom of the role structure ; today, despite a war and Japanese intern- 
ment camps, they have moved ahead of whites. There are major differences 
between the social structure of the Negro and the Oriental ghetto, but the 
Oriental's experience gives some hope that massive social change, even in the 
face of prejudice, is possible without massive government action. 

Elite acceptance of a transformation of the position of Negroes in the 
role structure can legitimize that transformation and in doing so facilitate 
the operation of the economy through which profound transformations occur 
with far less resistance than would be faced by an attempt to bull it through 
the formal political structure. This is why, at a time when top colleges and 
corporations are legitimizing the transformation, it is little short of tragic that 
anti-inflation policy should be throwing a monkey wrench into the gears of 
a full employment economy. With an expanding economy it is possible, as it 
was in World War II and the Korean War, to accommodate Negro upward 
mobility without serious threat of displacing whites. It is possible to justify 
Negro employment and upgrading as necessary to meet labor market demands 
rather than as an exercise of white atonement for white guilt. Experience in 
World War II and the Korean War suggests that, however distasteful to the- 
ologians and the New Left, this is a more promising avenue than the ex- 
ploitation of the guilt feelings of "white racism." A contracting economy, 
one that may even see declining employment accompanied by a rising cost 
of living, is one to exacerbate all the hostilities in the society. 

Such an economy may indeed be felicitous for a Southern strategy and a 
return to the traditional verities of Neanderthal economics and Neanderthal 
politics. If blue-collar workers are fearful of losing their jobs they may, as 
in the past, turn on Negroes as enemies of their security'. If Negro youth is 
even more massively unemployed and underemployed than is presently the 
case, crime, violence, and the Panthers are likely to be the alternatives to dope 
and despair. A stagnant economy is likely to provide a further source of 
alienation to white youth and to lead to continuing resort to disruption and 
confrontation. Violence on the part of blacks and campus youth has begun 
to bring about what Skolnick calls the politics of protest on the part of the 
police, who no longer seem content to occupy themselves with bread and 
butter unionism but are entering the political arena on behalf of their values. 
A public that is torn between backing a strategy of police repression or one of 
enlarged opportunities as an appropriate solution is likely to see security with 
the police if violence ri^|^ 

The future of race relations would seem to depend on white leadership 
and white attitudes and black leadership and black attitudes. As of the 
moment, it seems clear that official white leadership sees the perils of inflation 
as more serious than any perils its anti-inflation measures may have for race 

relations. The official leadership seems ill disposed to even consider selective 
anti-inflation measures that might have less harmful impact on Negro em- 
ployment. White business leadership is more divided on the present official 
course. It does not seem as yet to be seriously concerned about the impact of 
official policy on race relations. The A. F. of L. and C. I. O. at the official 
level have sounded the alarm for the likely reason that their own members 
are going to pay a price and because they have already had to fight off 
George Wallace. The papers are full of news about Black Panthers and the 
police. What may give more pause is when a Negro leader such as Whitney 
Young in a generally optimistic book, Beyond Racism, says the following: 
"Well over 150,000 black veterans have returned home and more are on the 
way, and they share that attitude. They're bitter and they are angry — and 
they are skilled in the arts of war and the techniques of guerrilla fighting. It 
would be insanity for America to continue to treat them the way their fathers 
were treated. They won't stand for it." 

America seems like a dirty mine. It might go for years without blowing 
up or, like Centralia Number Five, take the business-as-usual, no-nonsense 
politicians painfully by surprise. Unfortunately, we are all more or less in 
the mine though our pose is that of innocent bystanders and, more to the 
point, safe spectators. The massive measures that the Kemer Commission 
recommended would require socializing the society, at least where the Negro 
is concerned. Despite the attractions of the rhetoric of expunging "white 
racism" from the American conscience, it is doubtful that there is any likeli- 
hood of our taking the revolutionary political action necessary to make the 
revolutionary changes recommended. What might be possible is through elite 
action so to change the value structure at the top of the society as to bring 
about a profound change in the Negro's self valuation and the society's valua- 
tion of the Negro. For this to succeed, however, we can ill afford policies that 
depress the economy and may well succeed in bringing on depression. Whether 
we shall have the wit and the will to avoid this and get on with the business of 
using a managed full employment economy to solve the avoidable poverty 
of blacks and whites is unfortunately, at this writing, doubtful indeed. 



A question pressing upon us with increasing urgency is, What are the possi- 
bilities for political change in America? More specifically, can the political 
system serve as a means for efTecting the substantive reallocations needed to 
solve the enormous problems created within and by our socioeconomic sys- 
tem? What can we hope will be done about the continued plunder and 
pollution of our natural resources, the growth of a titanic military-industrial 
establishment, the massive concentration of corporate wealth and all its en- 
suing abuses, and the \videspread infestations of rural and urban poverty? 
What kinds of solutions are in the offing and, indeed, what kinds of def- 
initions do we bring to the idea of "solution"? 

Before considering the possibilities of political change, let us give some 
critical attention to the usual ways of approaching social problems. Social 
scientists and lay commentators alike have commonly assumed that solutions 
are arrived at by a process of systematic investigation. By identifying all the 
salient variables and then constructing paradigms which unravel the complex 
interactions of these variables, we can equip ourselves with inventories of 
causes and resources and develop strategies for solution. The remaining task 
would be to convince the decision-makers to push the buttons provided by 
the social scientists. It is expected that the human stupidity and inertia of 
political actors would deter the implementation of certain proposals, but de- 
cision-makers are thought to be as hungry as anyone else for viable programs 
and sooner or later would not be unresponsive to the promises of science. 

This scientistic \aew of social problems presumes that decision-makers are 
as immune to the pressures of power and interest as scientists are, or as sci- 
entists think they are. What is missing from this scientism is the essence of 
politics itself, an appreciation of the inescapability of interest and power in 
determining what solutions will be deemed suitable, what allocations will be 
thought supportable and, indeed, what variables will even be considered as 
"interrelating" and "salient." The presumption that there is a scientifically 
discoverable "correct" solution to problems overlooks the fact that social 

problems involve conflicting ends and often irreconcilable interests and 
value distributions; thus one man's "solution" is often another man's dis- 
aster. A "correct" proposal for some political actors is one which resolves the 
threat of an opposing interest without causing any loss of privilege, profit, or 
status to oneself. This is why the first instinct of established interests is so 
often toward halfhearted reform and wholehearted repression ("law and 
order"). For other advocates, a "correct" program is one calling for nothing 
less than momentous reallocations in the substance and process of the entire 
productive system (a remedy which offers a kind of paradigm that usually 
escapes the serious attentions of most liberal middle-class social scientists). 

Unlike mathematical problems which might be resolved by procedures 
and rules exogenous to the life subjectivities of various mathematicians, the 
solutions to social problems cannot be treated except in the context of vested 
and conflicting interests which give vested and conflicting definitions to the 
problem. This is true whether the question is rebuilding the ghettoes or with- 
drawing our troops from Viet Nam: the solutions are potentially "at hand" 
or "nowhere in sight," depending on the ideological priorities and commit- 
ments of various proponents. 

The scientistic approach presumes that problems exist because of the pre- 
vailing ignorance of the would-be problem-solvers rather than because of 
the prevailing conditions of power among social groups. But, again, unlike 
mathematical problems which begin and end on paper, it goes without saying 
that social problems are never resolved by study but by action. Many of the 
social ills we live with have been studied repeatedly, but since they have not 
yet been resolved it is assumed by the proponents of scientism that they need 
further study. Here we have an uncharacteristic instance of social scientists 
pretending to an ignorance they do not really possess. For the last thing 
some of our problems need is further study. Witness the hundreds of studies, 
reports, surveys, and exposes done on Appalachia by a variety of commissions, 
committees, economists, and journalists, extending back more than half a 
century.^ Neither history nor the historians have "by-passed" or "neglected" 
the people of Appalachia. The material forces of history, in this case the 
timber and mining companies that swindled and coerced the Appalachians 
out of their lands, exploited their labor, and wreaked havoc on their lives, were 
all too attentive to the destinies of that region even though they were never 
held accountable for the social costs of their actions. The plunder and profit 
which is the history of the region has been duly documented, yet Appalachia 
is still treated today as a kind of historical mishap, an impersonal and pre- 
sumably innocent development of the "changing times," a "complex situation" 
needing our concerted attention. 

^ See Harry M. Caudill, Night Comes to the Cumberlands (Boston: Little, 
Brown, 1962), for the best of many of the more recent studies of Appalachia. 

Similarly, the plight of the urban poor in various western industrial 
societies has been studied and documented by official and unofficial sources 
for more than a centur)', and in recent decades we have traced the web of 
interests, the private and public forces, North and South, at the national and 
local levels, which have contributed to, and perpetuated, the black ghettos. 
The story is well known to us, but our discoveries have brought forth no 

To be sure, the first step toward remedy is to investigate reality. But even- 
tually if no second step is taken, no move made toward action, then the call 
for "a study of the problem" is justifiably treated as nothing more than a 
s\-mbolic response, an "appropriate reciprocal noise," designed to convey the 
impression that decision-makers are fulfilling their responsibilities." The com- 
missioned "study" becomes an act which violates its own professed purpose: 
rather than inducing change, it is designed to mitigate the demands for 
change. Appearing before the Kerner Commission, the psychologist Kenneth 
B. Clark noted : 

I read that report . . . of the 1919 riot in Chicago, and it is as if I were 
reading the report of the investigating committee on the Harlem riot of '35, the 
report of the investigating committee on the Harlem riot of '43, the report of the 
McCone Commission on the Watts riot. 

I must again in candor say to you members of this Commission — it is a kind 
of Alice in Wonderland — with the same moving picture re-shown over and over 
again, the same analysis, the same recommendations, and the same inaction.^ 

By incorporating Clark's admonition into its pages the Kerner Report may 
have achieved the ultimate in cooptation, for it, itself, is a prime example of 
that kind of official evasion and obfuscation designed to justify the very 
status quo about which Clark was complaining. The Kerner Report demands 
no changes in the way power and wealth are distributed among the classes; 
it never gets beyond its indictment of "white racism" to specify the forces 
in the political economy which brought the black man to riot; it treats the 
obviously abominable ghetto living conditions as "causes" of disturbance but 
never really inquires into the causes of the "causes," viz., the ruthless en- 
closure of Southern sharecroppers by big corporate farming interests, the 
subsequent mistreatment of the black migrant by Northern rent-gorging land- 
lords, price-gorging merchants, urban "redevelopers," discriminating em- 
ployers, insufficient schools, hospitals and welfare, brutal police, hostile political 
machines and state legislators, and finally the whole system of values, ma- 
terial interests and public power distributions from the state to the federal 

^ See Murray Edelman, The Symbolic Uses of Politics (Urbana: University of 
Illinois Press, 1964), for an explanation of the ritualistic and control functions of 
political acts. 

^ Clark's testimony is quoted in the Report of the National Advisory Commission 
on Civil Disorders (New York: Bantam Books, 1968), p. 29. {"Kerner Report.'") 

Capitols which gives greater priority to "haves" than to "have-nots," servicing 
and subsidizing the bloated interests of private corporations while neglecting 
the often desperate needs of the municipalities. The Kerner Report reflects 
the ideological cast of its sponsors, the Johnson Administration, and in that 
sense is no better than the interests it served.* 

To treat the symptoms of social dislocation (e.g., slum conditions) as the 
causes of social ills is an inversion not peculiar to the Kerner Report. Unable 
or imwilling to pursue the implications of our own data, we tend to see the 
effects of a problem as the problem itself. The victims, rather than the 
\ictimizers, are defined as "the poverty problem." This is ^vhat might be 
described as the "VISTA approach" to economic maladies: a haphazard 
variet)' of federal, state, and local programs are initiated, focusing on the poor 
and ignoring the system of power, privilege, and profit which makes them 
poor. It is a little like blaming the corpse for the murder. 

Part II 

In looking to the political system as a means of rectifying the dislocations 
and abuses of the socioeconomic system, we are confronted with the un- 
escapable fact that any political system, including one which obser\-es demo- 
cratic forms, is a system of power. As such, it best serves those who have the 
wherewithal to make it serviceable to their interests, those who have control 
of the resources of money, organization, jobs, social prestige, legitimacy, time, 
and expertise — the resources which command the attention and responses 
of political decision-makers. The solution to our problems, then, rests on the 
abilit\- to mobilize power dedicated to serving the ends of those who are most 
in need of change. But the groups most needful of substantive reallocations 
are, by that ver\^ fact, most depri\-ed of the necessary influential resources and 
least able to make effective use of whatever limited resources they do possess. 
If the poor possessed the material resources needed to \sin substantive pay- 
offs, they would not be poor and would have less need to struggle for values 
which the economic and political systems readily allocate to more favored 
interests. This is the dilemma of lower strata groups : their deprivation leaves 
them at the low end of any index of power and their relative powerlessness 
seems to ensure their continued deprivation. 

The representative institutions of a democratic system, howe\-er, are ex- 
plicidy designed to make some allowance for the power of numbers, and if 
the poor have nothing else they at least have their numbers. But numbers are 
not power unless they are organized and mobilized into forms of political ac- 
tion which promise to bring some pay-ofT to potentially sympathetic decision- 

* See Andrew Kopkind's excellent critique of the Kerner Commission, "White 
on Black: The Riot Commission and the Rhetoric of Reform," Hard Times (No. 44, 
September 15-22, 1969), pp. 1-4. 

makers or some punishment to recalcitrant ones. And the mobilization of 
potential numerical strength requires the use of antecedent resources. Just 
as one needs the capital to make capital, so one needs the power to use 
power. This is especially true of the power of numbers which, to be even 
sporadically effective, requires substantial outputs of time, manpower, pub- 
licity, organization, knowledgeability, legitimacy and — the ingredient that 
often can determine the availability of these resources — money. The power 
of numbers, then, is an influence which is highly qualified by material and 
class considerations. 

Furthermore, although the poor in America represent a substantial seg- 
ment of the population, conservatively estimated at 35 to 40 million people, 
they are still a minorit)-. Therefore, even when mobilized for electoral partici- 
pation they might have but a limited impact; this seems especially true given 
the split between black and white poor. The power of numbers can more 
readily ser\-e the majority which identifies itself with the "haves," especially 
when the political parties, those instruments ostensibly designed to mobilize 
and register the polyarchic will, are in the hands of unsympathetic established 
interests whose overriding concern is to maintain their own positions in the 
ongoing '"equilibrium."^ 

Lacking the kind of bargaining resources that would make decision-makers 
readily responsive to them, and therefore lacking influence within those 
"proper channels" which prove so serviceable to better-endowed interests, the 
dispossessed do what they have always done when finally moved by that com- 
bination of anger and hope which is the stuff of protest: they try to establish 
new paths to the loci of power with the only resources they have : their voices, 
their bodies, their buying power, their labor, denunciations and demonstra- 
tions, sit-ins and scuffles, boycotts and strikes, the threat of disruption and 
actual disruption. The scarcity of resources and the instability of organization 
which limit their ability to mobilize their voting power also limit the effec- 
tiveness of their protest actions. Nevertheless, the last decade has witnessed a 
growing tendency among deprived groups to heed the old populist dictum to 
"raise less corn and more hell," to embark upon actions which sometimes in- 
convenience the normal arrangements of middle-class life and often upset 
middle-class sensibilities. 

That is the idea, to inconvenience and upset. By increasing their nuisance 
value, the dispossessed hope to achieve a greater visibility for themselves and 
a greater sense of urgency in the public mind for their plight. Also, to the ex- 

° For tAvo studies of the ways local political parties work to defeat, discourage 
and exclude the poor see Philip Meranto, "Black Majorities and Political Power: 
The Defeat of an All-Black Ticket in East St. Louis," in Herbert Hill (ed.), The 
Revolt of the Powerless (New York: Random House, 1970) and Michael Parenti, 
"Power and Pluralism, A View from the Bottom," in Marvin Surkin and Alan Wolfe 
(eds.) The Caucus Papers (New York: Basic Books, 1970). 

tent that direct actions are indeed a nuisance and disruption, they can be used 
as a leverage when dealing with decision-makers: direct action is an attempt 
to fabricate bargaining resources and create situations of quid pro quo, thereby 
inducing through crude means a responsiveness from officialdom which the 
business community accomplishes through more effective and less strenuous 

There are several signs that dissident groups may be reaching a new stage 
of development. There is evidence of gro\\ing militancy among deprived 
interests: the blacks, Mexican-Americans, and other racial minorities. Also, 
there are slight traces, ver\- slight, that in places Hke Detroit and Chicago, 
black and white ethnic community leaders are beginning to join forces in 
protest action.^ Should the lower-strata \vhites ever overcome their obses- 
sive fear and resentment of blacks, and begin to redirect their discontent 
against those who o%vti and control so much of the world they inhabit, then 
protest in America might well develop a class consciousness more closely ap- 
proximating class realities. Finally, since Viet Nam, a feeling of disenchant- 
ment has grown among the more literate segments of middle-class America, 
of whom college students are the most active and largest element; while 
making common cause with the grievances of lower-strata groups, some 
middle-class whites are also beginning to question, in the fashion of militants, 
the whole quality of life in America. 

Yet we should neither overestimate the potential strength of protest groups 
nor underestimate the repressive, coercive, and preemptive capacities of the 
present system of politico-economic power. From election laws to property 
laws, from city hall to federal bureaucracy, from taxation to "welfare," gov- 
ernment helps those who can best help themselves and this does not mean 
those wanting and needing fundamental changes. The use of police power, the 
control of institutions, jobs, and property, the ability to discredit, obfuscate, 
delay, and "study" (what Richard Neustadt calls the "almost unlimited re- 
sources of the enormous power of sitting still")' are all in the hands of the 
powers that be. Moreover, when local, state, and federal officials contend 
that the problems they confront are of an order far greater than the resources 
they command, we might suspect them of telling the truth; for, in fact, the 
major decisions concerning the vast substantive allocations made in our 
society are commanded by the private sector of the economy, and the eco- 
nomic institutions of a capitalist society are not held accountable for the 
enonnous social costs of their profit system. 

It is no longer a certainty that ^ve shall be able to solve our social ills by 
working with the same operational values and -within the same systematic 

"^ See William Greider, "Poles, Blacks Join Forces in Detroit," Chicago Sun-Times, 
October 12, 1969, p. 10. 

'Richard Neustadt, Presidential Potter (New York: John Wiley, 1960), p. 42. 


structures that have helped to create them. It does seem that we have seldom 
appreciated the extent to which the political system responds to, and indeed, 
represents, the dominant interests of the socioeconomic system, and also how 
frequently political structures are simply bypassed by a corporate economy 
which significantly shapes the quality of our material lives while in most 
respects remaining answerable to no one. A more realistic notion of how 
power is allocated and used in the United States should leave us less sanguine 
about the possibilities for political change. 

Unless there is a widespread transition in the political consciousness of 
America that will allow us to call to account the ways in which the wealth of 
this nation is produced, distributed, and used, we have no reason to hope 
that the "guardians of the public trust" will stop behaving like the servants of 
the dominant private interests, and no reason to presume that our political 
institutions will prove "viable" in treating the tragic life situations faced by 
many millions in this country. Given the "three R's" of politics: Reform, 
Repression, and Revolution, it can no longer be taken as an article of faith 
that we are moving toward the first. 




When black people took to the streets in 1967, striking out against the 
forces of oppression, President Johnson declared a National Day of Prayer 
and appointed a commission on riots. At the time, one wag observed that it 
would have made just as much sense had the President reversed himself and 
called for a study of prayer and a National Day of Riots. A year or so later, 
a black judge and member of a similar presidential commission, the Com- 
mission on Violence, suggested a moratorium on commissions and a commit- 
ment to action. The learned judge, of course, was adding his voice to those 
who argue that commissions are appointed to deal with the politics of volatile 
situations rather than with the situations themselves. The Kerner Commission, 
in my estimation, was no exception. It was a political expedient of the moment 
and in spite of the idealistic commitment of some of its members and staff 
people (including those of the latter who were fired for apparently taking 
their jobs too seriously) , its Report was destined to go the way of many similar 
reports - — ■ grist for theses and dissertations and fodder for conferences such 
as this one. Thus, I find it a bit ironic that we are gathered here for what has 
been called a revisit to the Kerner Report with the implied assumption that 
the Report was a prescription for social action. I would have chosen the 
terminology "post-mortem" and left off the assumption. 

Nevertheless, in spite of my feelings about the barrenness of the Report as 
a prescriptive document, I am pleased to join you in this discussion because 
I am hopeful that by focussing on the Commission in terms of what it said 
and what it did not say and how it managed not to say certain things we 
may be able to identify some of the crucial concerns in what has been 
euphemistically called race relations. In the next few minutes, then, I want 
to discuss the Kerner Report by drawing on my biography as a black man and 
a member of an oppressed group, an activist and veteran of the civil rights 
movement, a self-proclaimed member of the black liberation struggle, and 
lastly and perhaps least significantly, as a professional social scientist. I want 
to look at the Report both in terms of what it said and what it failed to say, 
and I want to relate all of that to the reality of the black struggle as I under- 
stand it. I would then like to close with some comments about the implications 

of this for the future course of race relations, which is to say, of course, the 
future of American society. 

Let us begin by ascertaining what the Commission said. The basic argu- 
ment, which has by now become a household phrase, was that the widespread 
and unprecedented urban insurrections were the outgrowth of white racism. 
More specifically, the Commission argued that white racism was responsible 
for the rise of an explosive mixture, and that the mixture, in turn, led to the 
rebellions. Among the components of that volatile mixture the Commission 
included, inter alia, pervasive discrimination in employment, education, and 
housing ; black in-migration and white exodus ; black ghettos ; frustrated hopes 
from unfulfilled expectations resulting from great legislative and judicial 
victories; a climate which tends to approve of white violence and lawless- 
ness directed toward those seeking social and political change; feelings of 
frustration and powerlessness ; police as symbols of white power and oppression ; 
and a new mood among black youth. The Commission couched its findings 
with what was accepted as an ominous warning that American society was 
becoming a country of two unequal factions, one white and one black. 

Although I would quarrel with the verb form — is becoming — because, 
consistent with the will of the white majority, American society has always 
been one of two separate and unequal factions, the accuracy of the Commis- 
sion's findings are beyond reproach. However, these findings do not come 
over very well as discoveries. The listing of the abject conditions under which 
black Americans live was little more than affirming the obvious. Any mod- 
erately intelligent human being who spends a day or two within these shores 
must sense the racist disposition of America and the colonial-caste system 
under which blacks are obliged to live. Indeed, these conditions have been 
adequately documented in scores of books, journals, and government reports. 
That oppressed people react to such oppression in volatile ways is common 
knowledge to anyone with even the slightest interest in comparative social 

For example, to reinforce but not belabor the point being made here. 
United States Government statistics have long suggested that the overall 
economic plight of American blacks is little better than that experienced by 
the country at large during the years of the Great Depression. That is a 
very important piece of information and cannot be overemphasized; it 
answers a host of questions which both liberals and acknowledged racists are 
prone to raise. During the longest sustained boom in the histon- of the 
American economy its black subjects have enjoyed a recession. What do you 
suppose white Americans would have done had the abysmal conditions of the 
thirties not been reversed? Singing praises to the government and pouring 
libations to the corporations? I doubt it. 

At any rate, the foregoing were the major findings of the Kemer Com- 


mission. That is essentially what it said. What it did was to reduce to elegant 
and provocative language what many of us had known and been saying all 
the time. Thus^ the only real value in having the Commission restate these 
concerns was to give legitimacy to them by enshrouding them with the 
imprimatur of the National Government. However, even that asset dissipated 
when the President and the Vice President, as well as Congress, ignored its 
recommendations and indirectly, if not directly, questioned the accuracy of 
the Commission's findings. 

So much for the findings. Let us turn to our main task — assessing the 
Commission's errors and omissions. The major fault of the Commission is 
that it stated its propositions in such general universal language that the 
whole society was indicted — not that it should not have been; but by doing 
so in such fashion and in such language the responsibility and guilt of indi- 
viduals and groups were rendered more obscure rather than clear and specific. 
The thrust of the Commission's Report could be summed up as "Everybody is 
guilty, but no one is to blame." 

Given the political nature of the Commission, essentially a status quo group 
working within the ideological constraints of the ver)- structure against whom 
the insurrectionaries were presumably rebelling, we should not have expected 
more. Indeed, some of the reputed inside stories on the Commission claim 
that the "liberal" faction included persons such as Roy Wilkins of the 
NAACP and Herbert Jenkins, Chief of Police, Atlanta, Georgia, two gentle- 
men who have not been distinguished by their ability to understand radical 
behavior. The real tipofl to the status quo orientation of the Commission is to 
be found in the two advisory panels which were established to facilitate the 
Commission's work. What were the two panels? One dealt with insurance 
and the other with private enterprise. Enough said. 

Returning to the Commission and its errors, the Report assigned culpa- 
bility to white racism, but it made no effort to connect specific behavior pat- 
terns of white Americans to white supremacy as a major tenet of western 
civilization. It would have been helpful had the Commission defined racism 
in a way which would have allowed white individuals and groups to under- 
stand — if there are those who do not — when they are performing racist 
acts and the implications of these acts for their black compatriots. 

Let me indicate what I mean. As Frank Joyce^ has pointed out, to say 
that American society is permeated by \vhite racism is to say that most whites 
are taught, deliberately or thoughtlessly, that they are better than nonwhite 
people. Whether deliberately or thoughtlessly, the implications for black 
people are the same. Racism has nothing to do with the nature of one's af- 
fective response to black people. Just as one may either love or detest, say, 

^ Frank Joyce, "Racism in the United States," in Priscilla Long, ed., Tht New 
Left (Boston: Porter Sergeant, 1969), pp. 128-50. 

dogs without questioning one's feelings of superiority toward them, so it is 
with regard to white racism and black people. A white racist may either 
love or detest blacks and react patemalistically or malevolently to their pres- 
ence. It does not matter. He is a racist if he believes that whites are superior 
to nonwhite people. 

To say that American society is racist is also to say that it is organized to 
insure the superordinate position of whites. The introduction of the phrase 
"organized to insure" is very' important, because it allows us to assign culpa- 
bility both individually and institutionally by placing individuals and groups 
in their organizational context. The question becomes. What role does this 
individual or institution play in maintaining the subordinate position of the 
oppressed black American? What does he do to maintain the racist order? 
Any act which serves to either enhance the superordinate position of the 
whites or thwart the liberation aspirations of oppressed blacks is a racist act. 
Such acts may be intended or unintended, conscious or unconscious, benev- 
olent or malevolent, hostile or friendly; it does not matter. Acts are racist 
because of their impact, not because of the intentions of their perpetrators. 
For example, ^vhenever public officials such as those assembled here support 
measures which enhance the position of whites at the expense of blacks or 
when they fail to support measures designed to facilitate black liberation they 
are performing racist acts. The political realities of the situations • — group 
pressures, party obligations, re-election concerns and the like — not-with- 
standing, such acts would be racist. 

Had the Commission indulged itself in this kind of analysis we should 
have been at least on the road toward singling out in a specific sense the 
racist tendencies of individuals and groups who run this country. Time will 
not permit further elaboration, but my point should be clear; it is the acts 
of individuals as individuals and individuals as parts of corporate structures 
which the Commission referred to in a collective sense as white racism. 

A second important failing of the Report was that it failed to put white 
racism in a systems context so that we can see who benefits directly and ma- 
terially from American racism. I am talking about the economics of racism. 
Such analysis, it seems to me, must by definition precede any attempt to de- 
vise even the most tentative prescription for change. However, from the 
Kerner Report one could infer that either all whites benefit equally or that 
they all suffer equally from racism in this country. The truth is that white 
racism has a highly differentiated impact in the white community. Only 
a small number of the \vhite majority realize immediate material gains while 
the remainder must content themselves with psychic payofTs for their racism 
(of course, to the extent that all social phenomena are related all whites 
profit from racism, but I am talking about direct material rewards). Any 
prescriptive solutions, especially those which make demands upon the time 

and wealth of the man in the street must take this differentiated impact into 
account. I shall come back to this point later. 

Since the Commission did not do so, let us raise this question now. Just 
who benefits directly and materially from white racism in America? To 
answer this question we may div^ide white society into three groups, the 
dirty workers,^ those whites above the dirty workers in the pecking order of 
society, and the remainder of the \vhite population. Dirty workers are those 
whites (and some blacks) who are hired or hire themselves to administer, 
contain, and control blacks in their colonial-like environment. These include 
welfare workers, policemen, public prosecutors and judges, bail bondsmen, 
bill collectors, the rapacious operators of retail oudets in the black com- 
munity, loan sharks, landlords, real estate brokers, and — in many respects — 
teachers and clergymen. To these we might add the rapidly burgeoning 
bureaucracy of the various and sundry poverty programs along with the 
dispensers of foundation largesse. Dirty workers, as the term implies, per- 
form their tasks in the interest of white society as a whole. White society 
expects the dirty workers to keep blacks in line. 

Those whites above the dirty workers in the pecking order are those who 
either own or have interest in the more legitimate enterprises which traffic 
heavily in the black community, as well as those who hire black labor at sub- 
standard wage rates. Their profits from racism appear on their balance sheets 
along with their profits from their other activities. The function of the dirty 
workers is essential to the success of the second group. Both they and the 
dirty workers benefit directly and materially from white racism. However, 
taken together these two groups constitute only a small portion of the total 
white population. The third group is really a residual category which in- 
cludes the vast majority of whites. Persons in this group receive no direct 
material rewards from their racism. Indeed, the masses of working-class 
whites are so impotent, so powerless, that they have few opportunities to 
parlay their racism into material benefits. 

At this point the logical question would seem to be. If so few people 
benefit materially and directly from white racism, why is the problem so 
intractable? Well, the Commission could have dealt with that and it was 
remiss for not doing so. The Commission could have asked, "To w-hat extent 
is the colonial-caste system under which black Americans live functional for 
maintaining the present socioeconomic order?" Or more bluntly, "To what 
extent is white racism functional in our neo-Keynesian quasi-capitalist econ- 
omy?" Of course we know that the decision to bring blacks to this country 
in the first place was an economic one. Slaver)' was an important variable in 
the development of our economy. We need to raise the question as to whether 
that initial relation between the black presence and the economic system has 
changed. There are at least some indications that the answer may be negative. 

' This interpretation of the dirty workers is also taken from Ibid. 

For example, at the moment we seem to be on the threshold of a deliber- 
ately induced recession. And, of course, the brunt of the downturn will be 
borne by blacks and other marginal workers. Keep in mind that during the 
moments of greatest prosperity, the black community enjoys a recession. The 
important question I am raising here is what would be the effect of, and the 
reaction to, such deliberately induced recessions if there were no black under- 
class to bear the brunt of them. My guess is that it would not make life less 
difficult for governments and the other major institutions of society. I find 
the foregoing to be obvious yet profound questions whose answers are essential 
to any discussion of alternative strategies for ending the race problem. If the 
Commission had explored these somewhat revolutionary questions, it would 
have broken new ground and laid the basis for a dialogue on the implica- 
tions of certain economic and political structures for the future course of 
race relations. However, as we have already noted, such was not to be. The 
Commission was content to propose what amounted to nothing more than a 
warmed over version of the much discussed domestic Marshall Plan, even 
though it has never been taken seriously by those in positions of power and 
trust. Even if such recommendations were taken seriously, there are con- 
vincing reasons to question the efficacy of such a scheme, for underlying 
the Marshall Plan idea is the notion that the race problem can be solved 
without basic structural changes. As I have already intimated, such cannot 
be taken for granted. 

What else did the Commission say, or rather not say? Let us turn to that 
most important chapter dealing with police and community relations. The 
Commission was quite candid in discussing the feeling among many blacks 
that the police is the enemy, the agent of an alien and oppressive force. Never- 
theless, the Commission could have dealt with this problem also in a more 
thorough fashion. The Commission did not raise the fundamental question, 
viz., in the context of the American socio-political-economic system, what is 
the role of the police vis a vis the teeming black urban communities? What 
does the broader society expect the police to do about the black community? 
Does society envisage the police as protectors of the black community, or does 
society look upon the police as dirty workers, as their protectors from the 
black community? 

Since the Commission did not adequately deal with these questions and 
since police-community relations may be the most volatile issue in the entire 
equation, it may be worth our while to dwell on it a moment. What are the 
answers? I am inclined toward the view that the inarticulate but well under- 
stood and widely accepted mandate to the police is to "keep the niggers in 
their place." The media are full of examples which reinforce this argument. 
One incident which occurred during the rebellions of 1967 serves as a very 
graphic example. It was reported that when looters spared the windows of 


stores identified with the sign "Black owned," authorities on street patrol 
gratuitously broke the windows of the store fronts which had been spared 
by the looters. Such behavior suggests very strongly that the authorities see 
themselves involved in a struggle between blacks and whites rather than be- 
tween the la^vless and the law. Granted isolated examples do not make gen- 
eral laws, I still find that example very instructive. Similarly instructive is the 
example of New York police attacking members of the Black Panther Party 
as the latter reported for judicial business on city property. And, of course, 
so is the current violent campaign against militant black groups. My files on 
police-community relations reveal numerous other examples. There is one of 
the open defiance of the black mayor of Cleveland, Ohio, when his police 
felt that he was being soft on the "niggers" and another indicating similar 
police behavior when a black judge in Detroit, Michigan, moved to protect 
the constitutional rights of black citizens in that city. To go on would be to 
belabor the point which, by now, should be clear: the police are perceived 
by many, including many of their own, as dirty workers. 

Finally, let us explore the Commission's errors regarding the new mood 
in the black community. The Commission discussed what it entitled "Black 
Power" in little more than two pages. The major thrust of this part of the 
Report was the argument that the new mood in the black community was 
really old wine in new bottles, and that therefore it represented a retreat from 
integration and confrontation with racism. This may have been the greatest 
disservice of the entire Report, because while black power may be old wine in 
new bottles, the Commission had both the wrong wine and the wrong bottles. 
The new mood in the black community is a function of the intensification of 
the old argimient between nationalists and integrationists which has been 
going on in the black community since the days of Frederick Douglass and 
Martin Delany. These two currents have always been present in the black 
community. Historically, those blacks espousing integrationism as an ideology 
have allied themselves with forces in the white community, and as a result 
the black liberation struggle has always been controlled in varying degrees 
by whites. Meanwhile, those who accept nationalism as the optimum sustain- 
ing ideology for the black struggle have always constituted an isolated and 
relatively impotent minority with little or no standing in their communities. 
The new mood which the Commission tried to deal with with its "wine-bottle" 
analogy is really an indication that the followers of integrationism as an 
ideology are losing out to the nationalists. Although this development is more 
pronounced among the young, it is taking hold in every sector of the black 
community. Leronne Bennett,^ Senior Editor of Ebony and perhaps the 
most capable contemporary historian of the black movement, refers to this 
as the unveiling of the veils. He suggests that as successive panaceas — in- 

^ Ebony (August, 1969). 

eluding integrationism — are tried and proven barren, the black struggle 
moves to a different level of struggle. Integrationism, the argument goes, 
has been proven barren and the dialectic has ushered in a stage of nationalist 
rebellion characterized by the ascendancy of nationalists and nationalism. 

This interpretation of the new mood among blacks is very important and 
ought to be given careful consideration by those who have decision-making 
authority in this society, because if it is valid and should the trend toward 
nationalism continue, America will be faced with the choice of making 
fundamental concessions or opting for total suppression of blacks, because 
once nationalism takes hold it is doubtful that a people will continue to 
passively accept a life as a half-free people. 

Having come this far in my forboding, yet honest, analysis, I want to 
close with some thoughts on the future course of race relations in America. 
Since the Kerner Report was issued almost two years ago, as the background 
papers for this conference demonstrate, things have gotten worse for black 
people. Social welfare programs are being cut; the Nixon-Mitchell Adminis- 
tration is obviously unfriendly toward the black liberation struggle; hostile 
forces have been sent to city halls and state houses in alarming numbers; 
police forces around the country have stockpiled monstrous arsenals to pacify 
black communities; the McClelland subcommittee has published more than 
20 volumes, including police mugshots, on radical groups paving the way 
for quick identification and perhaps elimination;* demographers tell us that 
black in-migration to the cities will continue, and we do not need demog- 
raphers to tell us that whites will continue to run to the suburbs. Thus, 
cities are likely to become impoverished islands inhabited by nationalist- 
oriented black people and surrounded by affluent suburbs inhabited by na- 
tionalist-oriented white people. 

And add to that cauldron a new and volatile variable and we have a 
sobering glimpse of the future. The new variable is direct competition and 
conflict between blacks and working-class whites. In the past, the era of the 
civil rights movement, the major thmst of the black movement was toward 
symbolic goals, goals which could be satisfied by legislative and judicial de- 
cisions, tokenism, and a few individual rewards. Although such concessions 
aggravated the more rabid whites, they cost the average white man nothing 
more than his abused sense of superiority. The future will be different. Con- 
temporary and future goals of the black movement cannot be met on indi- 
vidual and symbolic bases. They can be met only through very expensive, 
both materially and psychologically, compensatory programs based upon 
group considerations, programs which single out blacks as special objects of 
societ'/s attention and treasures. The white worker who has not benefitted 

* U.S. Senate, Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Hearings, Riots, 
Civil and Criminal Disorders, 90th Congress, 1st Session. See especially Part 20. 


directly and materially from his racism and who sees himself as being in the 
same economic straits as the dispossessed and powerless blacks can be ex- 
pected to revolt, especially when he is being asked to pay part of the bill. 

However, I hasten to add that I see no evidence that any government is 
prepared to advocate such compensatory programs and rile the white worker. 
Politicians have "discovered" the white worker and his political worth (the 
silent majority, forgotten American, middle American), and begun appealing 
to him and his fears with an eye on future election returns. 

Where does this cauldron lead? The implications are both ominous and 
obvious. If anyone can reverse this trend, and I am not very optimistic on 
this score, it is you, men of power and wealth in this society. The hour is late; 
as existentialist men, the choice is yours. 



I am pleased to address my remarks tonight to the topic chosen for dis- 
cussion by the Illinois Assembly. To revisit the Kemer Commission some 22 
months after its findings were made public is not only appropriate but nec- 
essaiy if serious consideration is to be given to this society's capacity for mean- 
ingful response to the fundamental domestic problem of guaranteeing black 
Americans equity. Many public officials, scholars, and concerned citizens are 
similarly engaged in reviewing what progress has been made on the race rela- 
tions front over the past two years. Their inquiries have been stimulated by 
the repeated occurrence of racial violence and the demonstrated refusal of 
white authority figures and structures to listen to this form of political pro- 
test. The more sober analyses consistently conclude on a highly pessimistic 
note regarding this society's response capacity. A typical representative here is 
the study "One Year Later" by Urban America and the Urban Coalition 
which charts the movement of America in the direction most feared by the 
Kemer Commission: two separate and unequal societies, one black and one 

To read the background papers for this conference is to be struck by a 
similarly uniform agreement among the various authors on the absence of 
changes in the social, economic, and political status of black Americans since 
the release of the Kerner Commission's Report. A few authors admittedly do 
chart some minor changes that have occurred since the Report's release on 
March 1, 1968. But these minor changes are exceptions to the more general 
pattern in which the status quo has been reinforced. The isolated exceptions 
noted fall only at the margins and are, at best, small increments in a setting 
that all authors seem to agree demands basic and fundamental change. 

The Kemer Commission's Report projects three alternative action courses 
available in the aftermath of civil violence in the 1960's. These include con- 
tinued pursuit of present policies, ghetto enrichment, or integration. It is 
clear from the background papers at this conference and from other anal- 
yses that our society has not pursued policies of ghetto enrichment nor has it 
opted for the Kemer Commission's choice of policies consistent with integra- 
tion principles. Rather, we have continued to pursue what were present 

policies during the Kemer Commission's deliberations to a greater extent 
than the other two options available. But even this description is not a 
totally accurate picture of what has transpired in race relations since the 
recent civil disorders. If anything, the previous policies have been intensified 
and reinforced by the politics of polarization, by augmented social control 
forces, and by increased private arms sales to fearful and threatened whites 
and blacks. 

Why has this response pattern prevailed rather than alternative ones sug- 
gested by the Kerner Commission? Why have status quo or punitive policies 
triumphed at the expense of ameliorative solutions aimed at the source of re- 
cent civil disorders? Why have the Kerner Commission's recommendations 
been spumed in favor of short-term suppressive measures? This conference 
appropriately raises the issue of what obstacles have prevented the latter and 
encouraged the former kinds of responses. The background papers point to a 
number of obstacles to fundamental change within selected policy areas. But 
what is missing in all this discussion, may I suggest, is an assessment of the 
role riot commissions themselves play in fostering or preventing meaningful 
political change. If we are serious in revisiting the Kerner Commission, then 
some attention to riot commissions' role in stimulating or blocking political 
change is called for. 

The primary perspective of my presentation is that riot commissions 
represent obstacles to fundamental political change. I do not mean to suggest 
by this that riot commissions have a monopoly on obstructing changes de- 
manded by blacks and some whites after civil disorders have subsided. Nor do 
I mean to suggest that the obstacle riot commissions represent is entirely of 
their own making. I do mean to suggest that riot commissions are devices by 
which dominant power interests deflect demands for power redistribution in 
the aftermath of civil violence. My argument is that as deflection devices, 
riot commissions remove immediate pressures for meaningful action and, in 
long-range terms, are basically unable to accomplish a redistribution of power 
for reasons inherent to all riot commissions. 

The regularity with which mayors, governors, and presidents appoint ad 
hoc riot commissions immediately after civil disorders is impressive if not 
surprising. Any survey of riot commissions from 1917 to 1943 and again from 
1964 to 1969 results in an impressive catalogue of official investigative bodies. 
But this should not be surprising in view of the position political executives 
find themselves in when their city, state, or nation experiences race riots or 
civil disorders. In the immediate aftermath of cataclysmic racial violence, 
political executives are faced with demands for meaningful action but lack 
ready recourse to resources for responding to those demands. But ad hoc, 
temporary, or advisory commissions are one alternative available to all polit- 
ical executives. Creating such commissions gives the appearance, moreover, 

of doing something meaningful about the massive disruptions that have inter- 
rupted the city, state, or national politics as usual. But it also does something 
more. It holds out the promise that, after serious investigation, programmatic 
recommendations will be advanced to remedy the causes of racial violence. 
The failure of past and recent riot commissions to fulfill that promise repre- 
sents an important obstacle to fundamental political change in this society. 

Riot commissions are fairly consistently charged with three primary 
tasks: to answer questions concerning what happened, why it happened, and 
what can be done to prexent racial violence from happening again. The task 
of thoroughly investigating the first and second questions leads to expectations 
that riot commissions will provide an accurate, factual, and literal account 
of events that transpired during civil disorders and of causes that gave rise to 
disorder events. But these expectations are fulfilled rather irregularly. For 
example, the McCone Commission incorrectly described what happened in 
the 1965 Los Angeles riot as "formless," "senseless," and "hopeless" violence 
"engaged in by a few" and then went on to attribute the riot's cause to dis- 
respect for law and to "brutal exhortations to violence." Contrast this ac- 
count with the Mayor's Development Team in Detroit which saw the dis- 
order there as a form of protest that resulted from long-standing grievances 
concerning police, housing, emplo)'ment, and education policies. The ir- 
regularity of such disparate conclusions is attributable to constraints that are 
generic to riot commissions as organizations. 

Three primary constraints on riot commissions' abilit)^ to speak accurately 
to questions of xvhat happened and why it happened may be identified. First, 
riot commissions lack adequate time and resources to accomplish a thorough 
research effort on riot events and causes. The Kerner Commission and the 
Governor's Commission in New Jersey had less than three months to conduct 
research while the McCone Commission and the Mayor's Development Team 
had even less time than that to carry out their research efTort. Resources for 
complex research were similarly insufficient, as each of the riot commissions 
failed to receive funds and manpower initially promised them. Second, riot 
commissions' ability to speak forcefully and accurately to riot events and causes 
is limited by the political environment into which their reports are released. 
Determining what can be said in a politically acceptable way often supersedes 
the presentation of factual accounts. The quest for political truth at the ex- 
pense of literal truth about riot events and causes is a characteristic common to 
all recent riot commissions to a greater or lesser degree. Third, the member- 
ship composition of riot commissions influences the content of final reports in 
important ways. Members are selected because they represent prestigious and 
dominant institutions that give importance and visibility to riot commission 
activities. But these same institutions represented usually had some associa- 
tion with riot events or causes. The inability of institutional representatives to 


accurately report the nature of that association is a self-evident limitation on 
riot commissions' quest for literal truth. 

The above-described internal constraints impinge on riot commissions' 
ability to fulfill the first two tasks usually assigned to them by political execu- 
tives. But it is the third task of formulating measures designed to prevent 
racial violence from recurring that is most important in the present considera- 
tion. Its importance derives from expectations that programmatic recom- 
mendations advanced by riot commissions will have an impact on public policy 
and will stimulate meaningful change in the status of black Americans. Ex- 
pectations that riot commission recommendations will be implemented his- 
torically have not been and contemporarily are not being fulfilled. The 
absence of an impact by riot commission recommendations is not simply an 
accident. Rather, it can best be explained as a consequence of inherent con- 
straints built into riot commissions as organizations. 

Riot commissions are relatively powerless organizations. By their very 
titles they are "select commissions," ''study commissions," or ''advisory com- 
missions." After creation by political executives, riot commissions are not 
given formal powers to bring about the implementation of their recommenda- 
tions. Such recommendations remain as purely suggested or advisory measures 
unless riot commissions are able to form supportive relations with interest 
groups or other key officials that result in the conversion of recommendations 
into public policy. Thus, riot commissions adopt a variety of strategies to over- 
come their relatively powerless status in order that their recommendations 
might be implemented. But limitations on strategies pursued in the imple- 
mentation process are sufficiently numerous and consequential to constrain riot 
commissions' ability to influence public policy in the race relations area. For 
the remainder of this presentation I shall concentrate on limitations inherent 
in riot commission strategies to (1) maximize their reports' visibility, (2) 
monopolize legitimacy in interpreting civil disorders, (3) reassure aroused 
groups, and (4) anticipate needs of public officials. 

An initial strategy of riot commissions to overcome their powerlessness is 
to seek maximum visibility for their reports in the hope that such visibility 
w411 further their recommendations in the implementation process. To this 
end, riot commissions pay significant attention to the audience addressed in 
their report and consciously attempt to gain coverage of their reports through 
press conferences involving considerable fanfare as their reports are released. 
But this strategy may backfire. The mass media in New Jersey overplayed 
that riot commission's passing reference to official corruption in Newark at 
the expense of discussing issues more central to the riot phenomena. Similarly, 
the national press concentrated on the Kerner Commission's reference to 
"white racism" in a manner inconsistent with the relative emphasis given 
that term in the Kerner Commission Report. Thus, unintended and unantici- 

pated consequences of seeking maximum visibility for commission reports may 
involve the mass media's playing up controversial but relatively minor aspects 
of commission reports. 

A second strategy for increasing the likelihood of recommendations being 
implemented is for riot commissions to claim a monopoly on legitimate 
interpretations of civil disorders. That is, if riot commissions can establish 
their interpretation of civil disorders as being correct, the probability of their 
recommendations derived from those interpretations being accepted is in- 
creased. But alternative interests that may not be represented on riot com- 
missions frequently contest the validity of official commission interpretations. 
"Competing riot commissions" are formed by antagonistic interest groups for 
purposes of advancing counter-claims on how the disorder events are to be 
interpreted. The competing riot commissions attempt to undermine the kinds 
of interpretations advanced by official riot commissions. For example, the 
McCone Commission's conser\-ative reading of the 1965 Los Angeles disorder 
was immediately challenged by a more liberal reading from the California 
Advisor}- Commission of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. 
Similarly, the New Jersey commission was challenged by a state Policeman's 
Benevolent Association commission and the Kemer Commission generated a 
competing mvestigation from the McClellan Committee. These competing 
commissions employ many of the same strategies and tactics as official riot 
commissions in manipulating the symbols of legitimacy. The difference be- 
tween the two forms of commission activity is that official commissions are 
usually of a temporary nature and lack an on-going base of support, whereas 
competing commissions arise from powerful interest groups that are perma- 
nently established to influence public policy. Competing investigations by 
antagonistic interests significantly undermine the second strategy of riot com- 
missions to further their recommendations in the policy arena. 

Offering reassuring statements to otherwise aroused groups is a third 
strateg)' by \vhich riot commissions attempt to augment their power status. 
Dispelling popular rumors and myths while at the same time interpreting dis- 
turbing disorder events in the context of traditional American beliefs gives riot 
commissions the appearance of bodies with which most citizens can identify. 
But riot commissions at the same time must advance programmatic recom- 
mendations that, by their very nature, are politically controversial and there- 
fore will alienate some citizens. The contradiction between the reassuring 
function and the prograirmiatic function is basic and inherent in the riot 
commission process. While some citizens or groups may be quieted by re- 
assurances forthcoming from riot commissions, these same citizens may be 
aroused into opposition by the controversial nature of programmatic recom- 
mendations that are at odds with their political interests. The publics to whom 
commission reports are addressed may be relatively united in agreement on 


fundamental precepts of the American belief system, but quite divided on how 
those precepts are translated into public policy recommendations. The in- 
ability of riot commissions to reassure divided publics in their recommendatory 
function is a consequence of the degree to which such recommendations favor 
some interests and disadvantage other interests. Thus riot commission strategy 
aimed at reassuring aroused publics is basically incompatible with the issuance 
of controversial programmatic recommendations. 

A final strategy adopted by riot commissions is to anticipate the political 
needs of key officials in the governmental process. One tactic here is to 
treat lightly the riot-related behavior of political executives, most of whom are 
involved in riots to the extent that mayors, governors, and presidents command 
the social control forces that suppress racial violence. Such command activities 
may be a subject for riot commission review. The virtual absence of criticism 
of political executives appears to be a consequence of riot commissions' de- 
pendence on these same officials for the implementation of their recommenda- 
tions. Beyond not commenting on executives' riot-related behavior, riot com- 
missions adopt perspectives that are meant to "fit" the political needs of elected 
officials. Thus the New Jersey commission set a target date of January 1, 
1968, for the release of its report so that the Governor would have its recom- 
mendations for consideration in his annual message to the state legislature. 
Similarly, the Kerner Commission adopted the President's "message on the 
cities" as a framework for some of its programmatic recommendations, an- 
ticipating that this would coincide with his legislative goals. The expecta- 
tion here was that the President would use the Commission's recommendations 
as a tool for furthering his ovm domestic program. The problem with this 
strategy is that it is a one-way street. That is, riot commissions are forced 
to adopt perspectives of the executive, but they have no assurance that political 
executives will pick up the recommendations and pursue them. President 
Johnson's reception, or lack thereof, of the Kerner Commission Report 
illustrates the dependency this strategy involves riot commissions in. Antici- 
pating the needs of critical political executives does not insure that such 
executives will further riot commission recommendations. 

Each of the above-reviewed external strategies involves inherent con- 
straints that prevent riot commissions from implementing their recommenda- 
tions in the political process. Kenneth Clark observed as much in his testi- 
mony before the Kerner Commission when he recalled that reading riot 
commission reports of the past was like "Alice in Wonderland — with the same 
moving picture re-shown over and over again, the same analysis, the same 
recommendations, and the same inaction." But, as demonstrated above, the 
failure to implement recommendations of riot commissions is not so much a 
failure of riot commissions per se as it is a commentary on the larger political 
system's intransigence and inability to meet demands of black Americans. If 

riot commissions are not necessarily a willful party to this politics of intransi- 
gence, how can they be viewed as obstacles to fundamental change as they were 
described at the beginning of this discussion? 

Riot commissions are essentially conservative devices by which political 
executives remove pressure from themselves for meaningful and immediate 
action by consigning racial problems to study. At the point of their creation, 
riot commissions are given considerable visibility and attributed importance by 
political executives. Mayors, governors, and presidents search out the offices 
of powerful interests for representatives to study the conditions leading to 
riots and hold out the promise that programs generated by commissioners de- 
signed to diminish the incidence of riots in the future will be enacted. But 
the program recommendations advanced by riot commissions are usually not 
adopted by those same political executives creating the commissions. After 
considerable passage of time while riot commissions have deliberated on what 
kind of report to adopt, the previous demands and political arousal necessi- 
tating the creation of riot commissions have faded and more stable patterns 
of political interaction have been restored. In this setting of politics as usual, 
political executives are efTectively able to ignore commission recommendations 
that they previously had promised to attend to. Recognizing this situation, 
riot commissions may attempt to influence critical actors in the political sys- 
tem to accept their findings and program proposals. But riot commissions 
normally fail in this effort because they have no apparent constituency, no 
ready support system, and no formal, legal sanctions to deploy against other 
political actors and groups. Their advisory and temporary status precludes 
successfully playing the pressure group politics game. But more importantly, 
and tragically, threats posed by civil disorders to given political power group- 
ings and dominant interests are conveniently deflected in an immediate sense 
and defeated in an ultimate sense by riot commission activities. Riot com- 
missions function to literally study American racial problems to death. 



J. M\-RON Atkin, Dean, College of Education, University of Illinois 

David J. Bordua, Professor of Sociolog)-, University of Illinois 

Walter Franke, Professor of Labor and Industrial Relations, University of 

Gene Graham, Professor of Journalism, University of Illinois 
Mack H. Jones, Professor and Chairman, Department of Political Science, 

Atlanta University 
Thomas Kitsos, Research Associate, Institute of Go\ernment and Public 

Affairs, University of Illinois 
Norton E. Long, Professor of Political Science, University of Illinois 
Philip Meranto, Assistant Professor, Institute of Government and Public 

Affairs, Universit)' of Illinois 
Michael Murray, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of 

Illinois at Chicago Circle 
David J. Olson, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Indiana University 
Michael Parenti, Visiting Associate Professor, Institute of Government and 

Public Affairs, University of Illinois 
Joseph Pisciotte, Assistant Professor, Institute of Government and Public 

Affairs, University of Illinois 
Merlin Taber, Professor of Social Work, University of Illinois 
Marvin Weinbaum, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of 





Mr. Wayne F. Anderson 
City Manager 

Professor J. Myron Atkin 


College of Education 

University of Illinois, Urbana 

Mr. Vernon Barkstall, Exec. Dir. 
Urban League of Champaign Co. 

Mr. Charles L. Dancey 
Peoria Journal Star 

Mrs. Orville Foreman 

Professor Walter H. Franke 
Institute of Labor and Industrial 

University of Illinois, Urbana 

Mrs. Irvan Gal\in 

"Mr. Lewis Gold 
Instructor, Department of 

Political Science 
University of Illinois, Urbana 

Professor Gene S. Graham 
Department of Journalism 
University of Illinois, Urbana 

Professor Robert Heifetz 
Department of Urban Planning 
University of Illinois, Urbana 
*Indicates round-table chairmen 

Dr. James B. Holderman, Exec. Dir. 
Board of Higher Education 

Mr. Edward Holmgren, Exec. Dir. 
Leadership Council for Metropolitan 

Open Communities 

Mr. Jacob Jennings 
Board of Higher Education 

Professor Richard M. Johnson, 
Head, Department of Political Science 
University of Illinois, Chicago 

Mr. David Keene 



*Professor Lyman A. Kellstedt 
Department of Political Science 
University of Illinois, Chicago 

Mr. Charles J. Komaiko 
Allstate Insurance Co. 

Mr. Keith Lape 

Office of Superintendent of 

Public Instruction 

Mr. Barnett Larks 

Asst. Chief, Downstate Operations 

Illinois State Employinent Service 


Mr. Robert Lenhausen 

Director Dept. of Local Govt. AflPairs 


Mr. KUrold Liston, Editor 
The Daily Pantagraph 

^Professor Michael A. Murray 
Department of Political Science 
University of Illinois, Chicago 

Mr. Roger W. Nathan, Exec. Dir. 
Illinois Commission on Human 


Representative James D. Nowlan 

Mrs. Athan Pantsios 

Professor Michael Parenti 
Institute of Government and Public 

University of Illinois, Urbana 

Mr. Edward Parsons, 

Assoc. Exec. Dir., Welfare Council 

of Metropolitan Chicago 

Representative Daniel M. Pierce 
Highland Park 

Professor Julian Rappaport 
Department of Psychology- 
University of Illinois, Urbana 

Representative Leland H. Rayson 
Tinley Park 

Mr. Robert A. Stalls, Director 
Carbondale Model Cities 

Representative Paul Stone 



Dr. Jack Van Der Slik 
Political Science Research Fello\v 
Illinois Legislative Council 

Mr. George Warneke 
Senate Municipal Corporations 


Professor Norbert Wiley 
Department of Sociology 
University of Illinois, Urbana 

Dr. Franklin D. Yoder, Director 
Department of Mental Health 

Professor How^ard M. Ziff 
Department of Journalism 
University of Illinois, Urbana 

Guest Speakers 

Professor Mack Jones, Chairman 
Department of Political Science 
Atlanta University 
Atlanta, Georgia 

Professor David J. Olson 
Department of Political Science 
Indiana University 
Bloomington, Indiana 

Chancellor Jack Peltason 
University of Illinois 


Director Samuel K. Gove 
Professor Philip Meranto 
Mrs. Jean Baker 


Mr. Ed Crego 
Mr. Dennis Judd 
Mrs. Alison Lauriat 

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301.451AS73K C004 


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