50 Years After the Kerner Commission: Can Entertainment Inspire a New Will?

Over 50 years ago, the Kerner Commission was created by President Lyndon Johnson following protests in more than 150 American cities against racism and inequality. The panel members concluded that it's "time to make good the promises of American democracy to all citizens," yet the policy work remains unfinished because we have not fully achieved what the commission called "new will" from the public. 

On February 23rd, Harvardwood joined The Norman Lear Center's Hollywood, Health & Society, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation,  the Trustees of the Milton S. Eisenhower Foundation, and the Writers Guild of America for an online discussion on these challenges. The lively conversation featured distinguished panelists Kenya BarrisTara DuncanFranklin Leonard (AB '00) and Elle Johnson (AB '86), and was moderated by Jelani Cobb. The event also featured welcome remarks from Marty Kaplan (AB '71), Director of The Normal Lear Center, special remarks from Alan Curtis (AB '65) of the Eisenhower Foundation, and producer Norman Lear.

Harvardwood extends our deepest appreciation to the panel and to our partners in the presentation of heartfelt discussion of how the humanities and the arts can better amplify, visualize and reinforce the policy priorities of the 1968 Kerner Commission

You can view the recording of the event HERE.

JELANI COBB {moderator) I Writes about race, politics, history and culture for The New Yorker; edited The Essential Kerner Commission Report; professor of journalism at Columbia University; winner of 2021 Walter Cronkite Award from USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center for report on policing in Newark, N.J. (PBS Frontline)



KENYA BARRIS I Creator and former showrunner of the ABC hit Black-ish; executive producer for #8/ackAF, Grown-ish and Mixed-ish; co-producing partner of BET Studios; co-writer and director of untitled film starring Jonah Hill and Eddie Murphy, currently in production 


TARA DUNCAN I President of Freeform and the Onyx Collective, a content brand under Disney General Entertainment for inclusive storytelling; headed series debut of the hit Cruel Summer, a new season of grown-ish, and the debut of Single Drunk Female; previously, Duncan worked at Hulu and Netflix, where she was a senior creative executive



FRANKLIN LEONARD (AB '00) I Film and TV producer, cultural commentator and entrepreneur; founder and CEO of the Black List; contributing  editor at Vanity Fair; member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences


ELLE JOHNSON (AB '86) I TV writer/producer and author; credits include Bosch, CS/: Miami, Any Day Now, and The Fosters; executive producer of Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker, which won an NAACP Image Award; her first book, The Officer's Daughter: A Memoir of Family and Forgiveness, was published in 2021

Calendar Programs Jobs & Career Development