a1 Department of Sociology and of African and African American Studies, Harvard University
a2 Department of Political Science, University of Chicago
The year 2008 has provided many opportunities to look back and take stock of what has and has not changed along the color line. Perhaps of greatest salience is that this year marks four decades of uneven progress since the tragic assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and of Senator Robert F. Kennedy. It also marks the fortieth anniversary of the publication of what became known as the Kerner Commission report (National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders 1968). The great sadness following those tragic deaths, and the somber tone set by the “two nations” declaration at the heart of the Kerner Report, call to mind an era of acute racial division, but also of steady struggle for change.