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Last Kerner Commission member haunted, hopeful on race in US

By RUSSELL CONTRERAS
Associated Press

CORRALES, N.M. (AP) - Nearly 50 years after the Kerner Commission studied the causes of deadly riots in America's cities, its last surviving member says he remains haunted that its recommendations on U.S. race relations and poverty were never adopted.

But former Oklahoma U.S. Sen. Fred Harris says he remains hopeful that one day, those proposals will be implemented.

Harris says poverty and structural racism still enflame racial tensions, even as the nation becomes more diverse.

President Lyndon Johnson created the 11-member Kerner Commission to study a spate of riots in the late 1960s. The panel recommended spending billions on revitalizing poor cities, improving police relations and ending housing and job discrimination.

The 86-year-old Harris lives in Corrales, New Mexico, and is working on a book on the 50th anniversary of the commission's report.

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