The first document was a report written by an 11-member committee appointed by the president to investigate the civil unrest which was being witnessed in parts of America especially Detroit, New Jersey and Michigan. The commission was also known as the Kerner commission because the then President Lyndon Johnson appointed the then Illinois governor Otto Kerner to chair the commission. The second document I chose was mainly drafted by Adam Fortunate Eagle who belonged to the Ojibwa nation.
Both documents talk about discrimination and civil disobedience as a result of the discrimination. The Kerner commission summary report talks about the origin of the violence and how what was happening can be prevented from happening again. The introduction of the report states: The summer of 1967 again brought racial disorders to American cities, and with them shock, fear and bewilderment to the nation. Engle, M. (2019). There were many disagreements between the many Americans and black men, blaming each other on the violence. The main goal of the Kerner commission was to set the record straight on what was the cause. The report is an answer to 3 different questions: what was happening? Why did it happen? And what measures can be taken to prevent it from happening again?
The second document talks about the demands of the Native Americans and why occupied Alcatraz. The letter was addressed to the Great White Father and All His People. They were writing to the whites to re-claim their land by right of discovery. The letter stated that the Alcatraz land was more suitable for Indian-Americans as determined by the white mans standards. Some of the reasons for the suitability were it was isolated from modern facilities, lack of fresh running water, no sanitation facilities, no educational facilities and other bad reasons that the whites saw it fit for native Americans. Adam Fortunate wanted separation from the whites and a place to only offer Native American studies.
3) How do they relate to the chapter reading you did?
These documents and this chapter relate in a very important way. These documents confirms studies from the chapter that African-Americans and Native-Americans underwent discrimination from both the hands of the government and the whites.
The Kerner report and the Native Americans occupation of Alcatraz both show discrimination against gender by the whites. They also relate in the way both of them responded to discrimination and unequal rights and justice. Both of them chose the same approach to gain attention from the government. They both experienced unfair policing practices, high unemployment, culturally embedded forms of racial discrimination, flawed justice system and unscrupulous consumer credit practices. The response by the federal government was also similar in both cases. The government sent law enforcement agencies to deal with the unrests which eventually turned violent.
There are several questions that have arisen from these documents and their connection to this chapter. Why were cases of civil disobedience only common to the United States? Was it because there was a large number of African-Americans? Or was it because the government was not doing enough to stop discrimination. Till today there are similar cases of discrimination and civil unrest in America.
Engle, M. (2019). The Native American Occupation of Alcatraz Island: Radio and Rhetoric. Pursuit-The Journal of Undergraduate Research at the University of Tennessee, 9(1), 5.
Gillham, P. F., & Marx, G. T. (2018). Changes in the policing of civil disorders since the Kerner Report: The police response to Ferguson, August 2014, and some implications for the twenty-first century. RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, 4(6), 122-143.
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