Vanderbilt Law Review


Allan Ashman

First Page



After a violent summer of urban unrest and civil disorder, President Johnson established the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders in 1967 to find out what happened in our nation's cities, why it happened, and to suggest ways to prevent it from occurring again. One of the findings of the Commission was that from the vantage point of the poor ghetto resident, local government was distant and unconcerned.For the poor person, particularly the poor black ghetto resident, the possibility for effective change either in his personal life style or in the political system appeared remote.' Reflecting upon this gulf between the poor black ghetto resident and his government, the Commission noted,"No democratic society can long endure the existence within its major urban centers of a substantial number of citizens who feel deeply aggrieved as a group, yet lack confidence in the government to rectify perceived injustice and in their ability to bring about needed changes." 'The growing sense of powerlessness and frustration among disadvantaged minority groups and the poor in general can be attributed, in part, to the lack of programs and procedures designed to assist the poor in communicating with state and federal agencies, in participating in the decision-making process, or in protesting arbitrary administrative action. In addition, a combination of ignorance,suspicion, and resentment of our judicial and political institutions has resulted in poor persons often shunning whatever opportunities they might have to gain formal review of unsatisfactory administrative determinations.'