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Tue October 29, 2013
Conference On Former Gov. Otto Kerner Saturday
Few people these days can tell you much about former Illinois Governor Otto Kerner other than he spent time in prison. But there was more to the man who oversaw state government from 1961 to 1968. This Saturday, an all day conference in Springfield will focus on Kerner, looking at his professional accomplishments, his trial and conviction and his private life.
The event, at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, will include journalists, politicians and even members of Kerner's family.
Kerner was convicted after leaving the Governor's mansion. A future governor, James Thompson, successfully prosecuted Kerner for accepting racetrack stock in exchange for political favors.
Mark DePue is director of Oral History at the library. He says Kerner's legal trouble has overshadowed the rest of his legacy.
"As governor, he was a progressive," DePue said. "Mental health was a huge thing he was involved in. During his administration they established the Department of Public Aid. They established the Department of Children and Family Services."
In the late 60's, President Johnson tapped him to lead the National Advisory Council on Civil Disorders, which since has been known as the Kerner Commission.