The Kerner Commission Report on Civil Disorders and the Founding of Community Change

The Kerner Commission, released in 1968, found that “…our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white – separate and unequal.” Furthermore, it found that “…what white Americans have never fully understood – but what the Negro can never forget – is that white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it, and white society condones it.”* One month after this report was released, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated.

In this troubled climate of 1968, Horace Seldon founded Community Change, driven by the realization that for years people had been talking about the “Black Problem” in the U.S., while the Kerner Commission made it clear that what our nation has is a “White Problem.”

CCI's work in 1968 through to today is to meet the challenge of “the White Problem.”

  • We at CCI understand racism to be more than individual prejudice and discrimination based on race
  • We believe that racism occurs when one group has the systemic power to institutionalize its prejudice in the forms of laws, policies, and ideologies that exclude and oppress other groups.
  • Historically, and presently in the United States, white men of wealth and property have had this power to create and control the institutions that govern the lives of all who live here.
  • This has produced a system of advantage for white people who benefit from unearned privilege at the expense of people of color.
    We believe that this systemic or institutional racism is largely invisible to the white community.
  • To counteract some of the devastating effects of systemic racism, many organizations provide essential human services to those in need. While we wholeheartedly support this work, our approach is different. We address the systems that create those needs in the first place.

This focus on “The White Problem” informs all the programs of Community Change. With an emphasis on white people taking responsibility for identifying and dismantling racism in the institutions that affect all of our lives, CCI works with a multi-racial constituency to equip people with the knowledge and skills necessary to take effective action, to support movement building tied to an action agenda, and to educate policy makers on institutional racism and its public policy implications.