Washington, D.C. (Feb. 28, 2018) — The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the Kerner Commission Report published on Feb. 29, 1968.
One element of the report included a scathing take on the media and its practices being a contributor to racial discord. The Kerner Commission summarized: “The press has too long basked in a white world looking out of it, if at all, with white men’s eyes and white perspective.”
The report’s recommendations to diversify newsrooms were ignored by many, but there were some organizations that acted. Newsday hired NABJ Founder Les Payne and five others, for example.
“Just as President Johnson largely ignored the Kerner Commission’s conclusion that white racism was driving the nation “toward two societies; one black, one white – separate and unequal”; most newspapers in the republic discounted its media recommendations that they must recruit, hire and fairly promote more blacks in order to better cover the news,” Payne wrote.
While NABJ’s 44 founders had already been consciously working toward equal opportunity in the media, and some organizing efforts started in Philadelphia in the early 1960s, the Kerner Report’s recommendations helped buoy the cause in living color, advance NABJ’s formation and propel its mission into motion.
NABJ is honored to share the thoughts of some of its founders on this important media diversity anniversary. NABJ Founders Les Payne, Sandra Dawson Long Weaver and Francis Wardshare how the Kerner Report impacted their lives.
An advocacy group established in 1975 in Washington, D.C., NABJ is the largest organization for journalists of color in the nation, and provides career development as well as educational and other support to its members worldwide. For additional information, please visit www.nabj.org.