During the summer of 1967, more than 150 cities erupted into violence, fueled by pent-up resentments in the cities’ black communities over police brutality and other forms of racial injustice. News networks broadcast the unrest around the country, and as the cities burned, many Americans watched in shock and horror.

President Lyndon B. Johnson responded by organizing a commission, comprised of lawmakers and law enforcement officials from around the country, to understand what caused the violence that left scores of people dead and caused millions of dollars in damages.

The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders — more commonly known as the Kerner commission after its chairman, Illinois Gov. Otto Kerner, Jr. — released its recommendations on Feb. 29, 1968. Today, 50 years later, the commission’s findings, that “the nation is moving toward two societies, one black and one white — separate and unequal,” still ring true.

The first draft of the commission’s report was penned by a group of social scientists hired to synthesize weeks of hearings and scores of interviews with witnesses of the violence.

The scientists asserted that racism was a direct cause of the violent rebellions and urged the federal government to take action to prevent more unrest.

But the bipartisan commission balked at the draft and compelled the scientists to tone down their findings before submitting a report to the president. They ordered the initial draft destroyed, and the second version put segregation and economic inequality at the center, shying away from the previous criticisms of the police.

Read the full article on the Kerner Commision by Nicole Lewis at The Marshall Project