Segments in this Video

Reaction to Riots (03:54)


Moyers hopes the Rodney King riots can be a turning point. Clips show a panel debating whether the riots are justified. On the streets of L.A., some condemn the rioters, while one man speaks for them.

Cleaning Up (01:17)

On the streets of L.A., people clean up after the Rodney King riots and present the cleanup as evidence of unity and community spirit in the neighborhood.

Racial Discussion (02:49)

Conversations on a panel and on the streets of L.A. reveal racial disagreements as whites object to the idea that they are oppressors, and minorities talk about the white power structure.

Thoughts on Rodney King Riots (03:04)

Moyers believes the Rodney King riots have provoked a useful discussion of race relations. Hear various perspectives at a town meeting in L.A.

Resentment of Korean Businesses Owners (03:19)

At a town meeting on the Rodney King riots, a black activist talks about grievances against Korean business owners. Others at the meeting engage in heated discussion on the matter.

Police Brutality (00:59)

At a town meeting on the Rodney King riots, a man calls returning focus to the verdict as the cause of the riots. A policeman argues that the police are not the enemy.

Marginalized Voices (00:26)

At a town meeting, a black activist argues that the rioters themselves are unrepresented at the meeting; none of the proposed solutions will work unless we give them a voice.

Grassroots Solutions (03:22)

Robert Woodson argues that people removed from the problems of the poor cannot solve them. Rather, "indigenous leaders," whom the young respect must call them to responsibility.

Sister Soljah (01:33)

Rappers are becoming the leadership among urban youth. See a Sister Souljah music video expressing the kind of anger that exploded in the Rodney King riots.

Revenge (00:47)

Sister Souljah says race relations are a question of power. The Rodney King riots were revenge, she says, when the justice system failed to deliver.

Black Militancy as Rational (01:33)

Asked how whites should interpret her work, Souljah's says she writes for black youth, not for Moyers. Saying America should recognize black militants' rationality, she explains the reason for the targeting of Korean businesses.

Black Identity (01:11)

Souljah says young black people know they have to sell out to get ahead, but are unwilling to do this.

Criticizing Black Power (01:56)

Robert Woodson criticizes black power. Black people control Washington, D.C. and other city governments, yet people remain poor. Souljah counters his definition of power.

Pain of Black Youth (01:11)

Michael Cross says the young black people he works with in Detroit see no hope; what others perceive as "coolness" is their way of dealing with pain.

Solutions (01:41)

Cross says black youth must learn to respect who they are, talks about the success of the Male Responsibility Program, and defends black political leadership.

"A Common Destiny" (01:59)

"A Common Destiny" is a recent exhaustive study of racial issues. Prof. Jaynes, one of the authors, says the conditions affecting black people are the same ones affecting the rest of society.

Hopelessness and Crime (01:17)

Prof. Jaynes argues that if we don't solve the problems of the poor, our whole society will go down. Those committing violence in L.A. had a message for society.

Ignoring the Poor (02:23)

Hochschild says politics is not solving the problems of the poor; rather, dominant, white society avoids these problems.

Need for Political Unity (03:21)

Charles Hamilton argues that mainstream America would have ignored the Rodney King verdict had it not been for the riots. The political system is fragmented, so we must raise the issue above partisan politics.

Non-Political Solutions (01:32)

Sister Souljah says politics is not the solution. She calls for black divestment from America and sees hope in the unity between Bloods and Crips during the L.A. riots.

Inner Strength (02:12)

Woodson says black people used to define power in terms of what white people conceded, but of what they did themselves. The black family was strong. He debates Sister Souljah on the point.

Values (02:09)

Cross says African-Americans must practice African values. Sister Souljah says values-promoting programs are not adequate for the scope of the economic problem.

Police Treatment of Black People (01:45)

Jaynes talks about his experience with police, and says the criminal justice system cannot treat black people fairly because white people don't understand this experience.

Economic Solutions (02:33)

Hamilton calls for enterprise zones. He disputes the idea that the Great Society failed. Woodson counters that the Great Society ruined a previously strong, resilient black community in Durham, N.C.

Models of Success (01:08)

Woodson talks about town meetings bringing together people who have successful solutions to urban despair.

Racial Battle (00:52)

Hochschild argues that black people must not write treat whites and middle-class blacks as the enemy; if you treat racial war as inevitable, they will act accordingly. Sister Souljah says they will do so regardless of what she says.

Perverse Incentives (00:37)

Jaynes argues that payroll taxes discourage work, and some welfare programs discourage family formation.

Changing Attitudes (00:45)

Charles Hamilton says there is a heightened sensitivity on racial issues. Cross says black people are increasingly aware of their culture and the strength they can draw from it.

Combating Social Crisis (00:44)

Moyers shows the image of a solitary black man pouring water on a raging fire during the L.A. riots, to illustrate individual heroism and the need for more unified action.

Sponsors & Credits: In Search of a Common Destiny: Blacks and American Society (01:18)

Sponsors & Credits: In Search of a Common Destiny: Blacks and American Society

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In Search of a Common Destiny: Blacks and American Society

Part of the Series : Listening to America with Bill Moyers
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This program with Bill Moyers examines the status of black Americans, particularly in light of the rioting in Los Angeles that followed the Rodney King verdict. Featured in the program are rapper Sister Souljah; Robert Woodson, Chairman of the Council for a Black Economic Agenda; and Michael Cross, Director of the Male Responsibility Program of the Detroit Urban League. They are joined by Charles Hamilton (Columbia University), Jennifer Hochschild (Princeton), and Gerald Jaynes (Yale), academics who have been involved in studying the status of black Americans. (60 minutes)

Length: 56 minutes

Item#: BVL5045

ISBN: 978-1-4213-9286-8

Copyright date: ©1992

Closed Captioned

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