From The Mayor's Commission on Conditions in Harlem, The Negro in Harlem: A Report on the Social and Economic Conditions Responsible for the Outbreak of March 19, 1935:

On March 19, 1935, several thousands of Harlem's citizens, after five years of the depression, which had made them feel more keenly than ever the injustices of discrimination in employment, the aggressions of the police, and racial segregation, engaged in a riot against these intolerable conditions. This spontaneous outbreak, the immediate cause of which was a mere rumor concerning the mistreatment of a Negro boy, was symptomatic of pent-up feelings of resentment and insecurity.

Today, extra police stand guard on the corners and mounted patrolmen ride through the streets of Harlem. To the citizen of Harlem they symbolize the answer of the city authorities to their protests of March 19. To Harlem this show of force simply signified that property will be protected at any cost; but it offers no assurance that the legitimate demands of the citizen of the community for work and decent living conditions will be heeded. Hence, this show of force only tends to make the conditions which were responsible for the occurrence last March 19 more irritating. And so long as these conditions persist, no one knows when they will lead to a recurrence, with the possibly graver consequences, of the happenings of that night...

...While it is true that the present economic crisis has been responsible for the appalling amount of unemployment and dependency in Harlem ... the main social factor which is responsible for this condition is racial discrimination in employment. It is the factor more than any other factor that arouses so much resentment in the Negro worker. If the economic system through competition, he reasons, inevitably condemns many workers to a starvation level, then he demands the right to compete on equal terms with other workers for a decent standard of living. This, he is not permitted to do...

...In view of the Negro's impoverished condition, it is not surprising to find him living in the often dilapidated and dangerous living quarters which whites have abandoned.... We must turn again to the economic factor for an explanation of the ravages of tuberculosis and infant mortality in the Harlem community.... The health agencies, as in the case of housing, were designed for a community with a different pattern of life and a different set of problems.There has been no systematic and comprehensive effort to modify these agencies to serve the needs of the present community...

As with the health agencies, so with the educational institutions which the Negro inherited when he took over a community which the whites had abandoned. The disgraceful physical condition of the schools of Harlem as well as the lack of recreational facilities and the vicious environments that surround the schools, all indicate the presence of a poverty stricken and therefore helpless groups of people....One can almost trace the limits of the Negro community through the character of the school buildings. That these conditions are due primarily to the fact that the Negro community is powerless to force the indifferent city authorities to afford adequate educational and recreational facilities was forcibly demonstrated by the fact that a recently proposed building program involving the expenditure of $120,747,000 included only $400,000 for an annex in Harlem, although most of the schools in this area were built before 1900...

From Governor's Commission on the Los Angeles Riots, Violence in the City-An End or a Beginning?:

The rioting in Los Angeles in the late hot summer of 1965 took six days to run its full grievous course....When the spasm passed, 43 persons were dead, and the wounded and hurt numbered 1,032 more. Property damage was about $40,000,000...

In the summer of 1964, Negro communities in seven eastern cities were struck by riots. Although in each situation there were unique contributing circumstances not existing elsewhere, the fundamental causes were largely the same:

Not enough jobs to go around, and within this scarcity not enough by a wide margin of a character which the untrained Negro could fill.

Not enough schooling designed to meet the special needs of the disadvantaged Negro child, whose environment from infancy onward placed him under a serious handicap.

A resentment, even hatred, of the police, as the symbol of authority...

What can be done to prevent a recurrence of the nightmare of August? It stands to reason that what we and other cities have been doing, costly as it all has been, is not enough...

Our recommendations will concern many areas where improvement can be made but three we consider to be of highest priority and greatest importance.

1. Because idleness brings a harvest of distressing problems, employment for those in the Negro community who are unemployed and able to work is a first priority...

2. In education, we recommend a new and costly approach to educating the Negro child who has been deprived of the early training that customarily starts at infancy and who because of early deficiencies advances through school on a basis of age rather than scholastic attainment...

3. We recommend that law enforcement agencies place great emphasis on their responsibilities for crime prevention as an essential element of the law enforcement task, and that they institute improved means of handling citizen complaints and community relationships...

...There is no immediate remedy for the problems of the Negro and other disadvantaged in our community. The problems are deep and the remedies are costly and will take time. However, through the implementation of the programs we propose, with the dedication we discuss, and with the leadership we call for from all, our Commission states without dissent, that the tragic violence that occurred during the six days of August will not be repeated.

From The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders Report, 1968:

The summer of 1967 again brought racial disorders to American cities, and with them a shock, fear, and bewilderment to the Nation...

On July 28, 1967, the President of the United States established this Commission and directed us to answer three basic questions:

What happened?

Why did it happen?

What can be done to prevent it from happening again?

...This is our basic conclusion: Our Nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one whiteseparate and unequal.

Reaction to last summer's disorders has quickened the movement and deepened the division. Discrimination and segregation have long permeated much of American life; they now threaten the future of every American.

This deepening racial division is not inevitable. The movement apart can be reversed. Choice is still possible. Our principal task is to define that choice and to press for a national resolution.

...It is time now to turn with all the purpose at our command to the major unfinished business of the nation. It is time to adopt strategies for action that will produce quick and visible progress. It is time to make good the promises of American democracy to all citizensurban and rural, white and black, Spanish-surname, American Indian, and every minority group.

Our recommendations embrace three basic principles:

To mount programs on a scale equal to the dimension of the problems;

To aim these programs for high impact in the immediate future in order to close the gap between promise and performance;

To undertake new initiatives and experiments that can change the system of failure and frustration that now dominates the ghetto and weakens our society.

These programs will require unprecedented levels of funding and performance, but they neither probe deeper nor demand more than the problems which called them forth. There can be no higher priority for national action and no higher claim on the Nation's conscience.

SOURCE: Commission report