Gov. Otto Kerner and his complex legacy will be the focus of a
conference presented by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and
Museum and the Institute for Government and Public Affairs.
Political experts, journalists and former Kerner aides will gather
on Nov. 2 for a reassessment of Illinois' 33rd governor.
experts will examine the goals and accomplishments of Kerner's
administration, his public and private personas, his conviction on
corruption charges, and the views of the journalists who covered
The public is invited to attend this examination of an important
Illinois figure. College students studying history or political
science are particularly invited.
The Nov. 2 conference at the Lincoln Presidential Library, 112 N.
Sixth St. in Springfield, begins at 8:30 a.m. It includes lunch in
the library atrium. Seating is limited.
Tickets are $35. Students with proper identification can attend
free of charge. To buy tickets, visit
"So many of Kerner's achievements in multiple areas -- mental
health, school reform and especially civil rights -- broke new
ground and bettered people's lives. We need to understand both his
failures and his achievements," said Eileen Mackevich, executive
director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.
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Kerner was a Chicago Democrat who won his first term in 1960. As
governor, he modernized state services for the mentally ill and
backed a statewide system of community colleges.
His name became a household word after President Lyndon Johnson
chose him to lead the National Advisory Commission on Civil
Disorders -- known everywhere as the Kerner Commission. The panel
examined the riots flaring up in African-American neighborhoods
across the country, and it concluded that segregation and lack of
economic opportunity were driving the nation "toward two societies,
one black, one white -- separate and unequal."
Kerner left the governor's office soon after the report's release
and was appointed to the federal bench. But his time as a judge was
cut short by accusations that, as governor, Kerner had accepted
bribes in exchange for granting favorable racing dates for an
Arlington Heights track.
He was convicted in 1973 for mail fraud, conspiracy, perjury and
more. Today, however, some people question the case against him and
the legal theory underlying the charges.
Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
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