Former Gov. Otto Kerner subject of conference

Oct 29, 2013

A day-long conference in Springfield Saturday will look at the public and private life of former governor Otto Kerner.  His time in office during the 1960's resulted in numerous accomplishments, but he is probably best remembered for having served time in prison.  

Kerner was a federal judge by the time he was charged with providing political favors for stock in a race track.  Mark DePue is the Oral History Director at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, which is hosting the conference.  DePue says the conviction left Kerner's legacy shortchanged:

"As governor, he was a progressive.  He served during the same time frame Lyndon Johnson was doing some of the same things at the national level.  Mental health was a huge thing Kerner was involved in.  During his administration, they established the Department of Public Aid.  They established the Department of Children and Family Services."

He also chaired a national panel that reviewed violence in inner cities during the sixties.  It went on to be known as the "Kerner Commission."  Kerner died of cancer in 1976.  The conference will include journalists, family members and those who worked with him.  Tickets are available through the library.