Power to the People!
The Art of Black Power
Lisa Gail Collins and Margo Natalie Crawford
Harlem (1964), Brooklyn (1964), Philadelphia (1964), Watts (1965), Chicago (1966), Cleveland (1966), San Francisco (1967), Tampa (1967), Cincinnati (1967), Atlanta (1967), Boston (1967), Milwaukee (1967), Newark (1967), Detroit (1967), Baltimore (1968), Kansas City (1968), Chicago (1968), Pittsburgh (1968), Washington, D.C. (1968).
On July 29, 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued Executive Order 11365 establishing a National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders to investigate the explosion of "racial disorders" in American cities. President Johnson's mandate for the eleven-member appointed commission was to answer three crucial questions about the recent upsurge in urban violence: "What happened? Why did it happen? And what can be done to prevent it from happening again?"1 After conducting extensive field research, hearings, surveys, and interviews, the bipartisan commission published its detailed findings in a hefty government document known as "The Kerner Report." Released on March 1, 1968, the 425-page report was informally named for the commission's chairman Governor Otto Kerner of Illinois.
Focused on 1967, the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders found that over 120 U.S. cities had reported disturbances in "minority" neighborhoods—especially in predominantly African American communities—during the first nine months of the year (fig. I. 1).2 Ranging from minor disturbances such as broken windows to major outbursts that included arson, looting, and sniping, these disturbances—which were typically fueled by real and perceived crimes of discriminatory or abusive police actions—reached a peak in July 1967. Newark and Detroit were the sites of the most explosive violence.