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Didn’t Happen Then, Ain’t Gonna Happen Now! | By Louie Overstreet

September 10, 2020 by  
Filed under Community

Didnt Happen Then, Aint Gonna Happen Now!


Louie Overstreet

The then and now I am referring to is America’s need to complete its reckoning on race. While there has always existed a need, to include fighting a civil war, it wasn’t until over 100 years later that such a reckoning was attempted.

Rioting in American cities required President Johnson to establish the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (Kerner Commission) in 1967. Gov. Otto Kerner of Illinois chaired the 11-person commission, which issued its findings in February 1968.

I bet that if any readers of this column are old enough to remember anything about the Commission’s findings, it would be one sentence from the 436-page report: “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white — separate and unequal.”

The Commission was charged with answering three questions:

  • What happened?
  • Why did it happen?
  • What can be done to prevent it from happening again?

The Commission’s recommendations embraced three basic principles:

  • To mount programs on a scale equal to the dimension of the problems
  • To aim these programs for high impact in the immediate future in order to close the gap between promise and performance
  • To undertake new initiatives and experiments that can change the systems of failure and frustration that now dominate the ghetto and weakens our society.

In 1967-68, if you can believe it, our total accumulated national debt was around $350 billion. By the time you read this column, our national debt could be north of $26 trillion. How nice will this be, America being at the doorstep of financial insolvency and also enjoying our status as the laughingstock of the world? It took us less than four years to pull this off.

In 1967-68, America had the money to solve its race problem, but not the will — which in fairness was complicated by the Vietnam war and the protests against it. In 2020, we have the will, but not the money. That’s a damn shame!

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