In the summer of 1967, in response to violent demonstrations that rocked 164 cities across the U.S., the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, commonly known as the Kerner Commission, was formed. As part of its work, the Commission employed social scientists to research the root causes of the disturbances, including the role that law enforcement played. Chief among its research projects was a study of 23 American cities, headed by social psychologist Robert Shellow. Shellow's social scientists worked from the vast material brought back by teams of Commission investigators who fanned out across those cities, conducting interviews and gathering data. An early draft of the scientists' analysis was delivered on November 22, 1967. Their report, titled "The Harvest of American Racism: The Political Meaning of Violence in the Summer of 1967" provoked the Commission's staff by uncovering political causes for the unrest; the team of researchers was fired, and the controversial report remained buried at the LBJ Presidential Library until now.
The first publication of the Harvest report half a century later reveals that many of the issues it describes are still with us, including how cities might more effectively and humanely react to groups and communities in protest. In addition to the complete text of the suppressed Harvest report, the book includes an introduction by Robert Shellow that provides useful historical context; personal recollections from four of the report's surviving social scientists, Robert Shellow, David Boesel, Gary T. Marx, and David O. Sears; charts illustrating the relative severity and growing frequency of the civil disturbances that summer; and an appendix outlining the differences between the unpublished Harvest analysis and the official government document that came later, the well-known Kerner Commission Report.