#7 68/08

Inheriting The Grid #7

By Daniel Tucker — “History does not usually suit the convenience of people who like to divide it into neat periods, but there are times when it seems to have pity on them. The year 1968 almost looks as though it had been designed to serve as some sort of signpost. There is hardly any region in the world […]

68/08 Introduction

By Rebecca Zorach — When people who weren’t there, and some who were, think of Chicago in 1968, they generally think of one thing: dramatic televised scenes of protest and police riot outside the Democratic National Convention. These scenes had an unprecedented immediacy for millions of American TV viewers. But Chicago in 1968 was much more (and perhaps in […]


By Daniel Tucker — April ’68 – Following the assassination of civil rights (see below) leader Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4th 1968, urban areas throughout the U.S. erupted in revolt. This has popularly been described as a riot and is generally considered to have been spontaneous. The most notable precursors to this moment were a wave of […]


By AREA — Books/Articles1968: Marching In The Streets, by Tariq Ali and Susan Watkins (The Free Press, 1998)1968: The World Transformed (Publications of the German Historical Institute), edited by Carole Fink, Philipp Gassert, Detlef Junker, Daniel S. Mattern (Cambridge U Press, 1988)The 60s Without Apology, edited by Fredric Jameson and Anders Stephanson (U of Minnesota Press and Social […]

Project Overview

By AREA — 68/08 Project Overview A Project In Residence at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum Organized by AREA Chicago The 68/08 initiative consisted of multiple endeavors occurring on their own timelines in 2008, each investigating the legacy of 1968 in contemporary social movements, arts, and education. A release event for the magazine was held at the Hull […]


By Max Elbaum — Taken from Max Elbaum’s website http://www.revolutionintheair.com/chron/chron1.html [Notes and citations which are in parenthesis correspond to a bibliography available on the website from which this timeline content was taken. -ed] 1960Malcolm X begins editing Mr. Muhammad Speaks for the Blackman newspaper in Harlem, which soon becomes simply Muhammad Speaks and its offices move to Chicago. By […]

Section Introduction

By Aaron Sarver — Some histories remain hidden from us, while we can’t escape others. In this section of ‘68/’08 we attempt to uncover neglected histories and untold stories of Chicago from 1968. Some events such as the Democratic National Convention and accompanying police riots in Grant Park have been told and retold, so we see no need to […]

The Chicago Seed

By Alyssa Vincent — By the mid-1960s, the area around Wells Street in what is now Old Town formed the heart of Chicago’s small but thriving hippie scene. The neighborhood housed headshops, record stores, music clubs, coffee shops and a burgeoning population of bohemian young people. Students for a Democratic Society had its headquarters in the city as well […]

A Very Volatile Time

By Alyssa Vincent — Bernie Farber joined Students for a Democratic Society in the mid-1960s while a student at Niles East High School. He attended Roosevelt University and was editor of the student newspaper, The Torch. He was on the staff of The Seed from 1970 to 1973. He currently teaches part time at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law […]

Messages in a Lovely Psychedelic Bottle

By Alyssa Vincent — Abe Peck is professor emeritus at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and author of the book Uncovering the Sixties: The Life and Times of the Underground Press, the definitive survey of the underground press movement of the late 1960s and early 70s. He was an early editor and writer for The Chicago […]

The Reporters’ Rebellion

By Steve Macek — The staff of The Seed weren’t the only journalists radicalized by the events of 1968. In the course of the police riot that greeted demonstrators during the Democratic National Convention, cops beat or arrested some 75 reporters working for the city’s mainstream newspapers and broadcast news organizations. Nor was this a case of unfortunate individuals […]

Chicago Underground Media from 1960s and 70s

By Steve Macek — Selected Chicago-Area Underground/Alternative Publications (roughly mid-1960s to early 1970s) Black Truth Blazing Star Camp News Chicago Express Chicago Free Press Chicago Gay Crusader Chicago Journalism Review Chicago Kaleidoscope (later merged with The Seed) Chicago Reader Daily Planet Dull Brass Fire! Free Chicago Graphic Hyde Park Voices Killer Dyke Labor Voice for Peace Lincoln Avenue Ambush […]

The Cosmic Frog

By Alyssa Vincent — In the wake of 1968, an increasing number of Chicago-area high school students began to identify with the anti-war movement and the counterculture. At one high school after another, activists organized sit-ins, pickets and class boycotts protesting the war, supporting racial justice or expressing solidarity with students who’d been had suspended for previous political activities. […]

Alternative Press Centre

By Alternative Press Centre — The Alternative Press Centre (APC) publishes the Alternative Press Index (API), a unique and comprehensive guide to the alternative press in English, French and Spanish. The API provides access to articles from 300 magazines, newspapers and academic journals. The API has indexed 948 periodical titles since 1969, the year that: *The Students for a Democratic […]

In Memoriam: Benjamin J. Schaafsma 1982 – 2008

By Daniel Tucker — Ben believed that if a desirable resource didn’t exist, there was no reason to wait for someone else to wait for someone else to put it in place.  Leading by example, he taught us that a good idea need not remain only an idea.  He believed that people could produce meaningful and lasting change with […]

Local University Students Write Local Histories

By AREA — For this issue, AREA has solicited the contributions of eleven students from DePaul University and University of Chicago. Two of our Advisory Group members, Rebecca Zorach and Euan Hague, taught courses that related to the history of 1968 in Chicago. Several of their students wrote short profiles of Chicago organizations and movements for this section […]


By Chloe Ottenhoff — The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) was organized in May 1965 by pianists Muhal Richard Abrams and Jodie Christian, drummer Steve McCall, and trumpeter Kelan Phil Cohran. Having spread to New York City, the West Coast, and Paris since then, the AACM continues to do what it set out to do almost […]

Conservative Vice Lords

By Laura Gluckman — “Brothers, this is where you live. There’s no place else to go that is not the same. So make what you already have a beautiful thing. If you succeed, then the system can’t deny blacks nothing because what he calls the worst of humans proved him wrong. Never forget, WE ARE SOMEBODY!” – Bobby Gore, […]

Free School

By Ashley Weger — Over the course of the 1960s, inspired by the Civil Rights Movement, students began seeking and creating educational alternatives, new ways of being in and engaging with the world. Coming to critical awareness of social and political inequity, they sought to radicalize education, establishing hundreds of independent “free schools” across the United States. The free […]

Chicago Area Draft Resisters

By AREA Staff — During the Vietnam War, in the United States, “open resistance to the draft [was] greater than at any time since the Civil War.” Chicago’s urban population allowed many anti-draft groups to prosper during the Vietnam War draft period. The Chicago Area Draft Resisters (CADRE) quickly became a major player in draft resistance in the city. […]

The Chicago Seed: A Profile

By Amy Martin —  “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”—A. J. Liebling The Chicago Seed was an underground, biweekly newspaper published in Chicago from 1967-1971. It, like many other independent publications of the era, was organized in response to the mainstream media’s disregard for opinions valued by the countercultural movement. Cultural and political […]

Harper Court

By AREA Staff — Just off of Harper Avenue, half a block from the neighborhood’s major thoroughfare, on the eastern edge of the center of Hyde Park, lounges Harper Court. An ordinary enough triad of buildings shading a sunken courtyard, this unassuming complex reveals the legacy of urban renewal just over 40 years old. The 1954 Federal Housing Act […]

Kartemquin Films

By Darcy Lydum — For 42 years, Kartemquin Films has been expressing the need for social change through documentary films. The journey began first in Chicago but now reaches a global audience. Founding members Gordon Quinn and Jerry Blumenthal envisioned the film company as a way to bring the need for social change to the public through cinéma vérité. […]

Chicago Artist Boycott

By Maggie Taft — In August of 1968, after seeing the brutal images and televised footage of the aggression perpetrated by the city’s government forces at and around the Democratic National Convention, two artists, Hedda Sterne and Jesse Reichek, organized a protest. The plan was to boycott Chicago’s art museums and galleries for two years, until 1970, when Richard […]

Negro Digest/Black World

By Chris Brancaccio — Negro Digest/Black World is a fascinating artifact because the content of each issue seems to evade rigid binaries like integrationist or nationalist, and therefore became a very real space for public debate. For instance, the November 1966 issue contains an article entitled Black Power Symposium features 12 different opinions on Black Power, offered by a […]

The Blackstone Rangers

By Julie Glasier — In the late 1960s, day after day, Chicago Tribune articles reporting robberies, knifings, and homicide on the South Side blamed the Blackstone Rangers as the source of all delinquency. In an 1969 interview with Atlantic Monthly, Woodlawn’s Congressman Abner Mikva remarked, “If someone commits a crime in the area and if he is a kid, […]

Chicago Surrealist Group

By Joey Pizzolato — Amidst the turmoil of 1968 in Chicago, a group of six young surrealist artists established their own revolution on the corner of Mohawk and Eugenie. The Chicago Surrealist Group was formed two years prior in 1966 after Franklin and Penelope Rosemont were inducted into the Paris Surrealist Group. When they returned stateside, they set an […]

The Woodlawn Organization

By Carrie Breitbach — The Woodlawn Organization (TWO) was officially formed in Chicago in January of 1961, but its origins date to the late 1950s when residents of the Woodlawn neighborhood, just south and west of Hyde Park, felt under threat from an expansion plan by the University of Chicago called the South Campus Plan. This expansion proposal came […]

Rising Up Angry

By Euan Hague — “We’re outlaws. Dig it. Right on, brothers and sisters,” was how the Chicago area activist newspaper Rising Up Angry described itself, “a group of people who work together to back each other up. We do a lot of things together, building for the revolution.” Published between 1969 and 1975 with the slogan “To Live We […]

Uptown’s JOIN Community Union

By Amy Sonnie — James Tracy and Amy Sonnie have been researching the history of white working class groups of the New Left for many years. This selection is drawn from their forthcoming book from Melville House on this history.  Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels, and Black Power: Community Organizing in Radical Times by Amy Sonnie and James Tracy […]

Reflections on UIC Student Organizing in 1968

By Earl Silbar — When I started at the University of Illinois, Chicago, in Spring of ‘68, the new Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) chapter was lively and large, with maybe 20-40 people attending weekly meetings. Much discussion centered on how to understand and approach race and class in building the antiwar and antiracist movement on campus. These […]

Native American Organizing

By Lauren Cumbia — The Indian Relocation Act of 1956 facilitated the movement of Native Americans from rural areas to cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles, and Minneapolis.  In 1953, The American Indian Center of Chicago (AIC) at 1630 W. Wilson was founded to provide a social and cultural space to the more than fifty different tribes who were […]

The History, Philosophy and Aesthetics of AFRICOBRA

By Barbara Jones-Hogu — From the ArchivesOriginally published in Afri-Cobra HI (Amherst: University of Massachusetts at Amherst, 1973). Revised by the author, Chicago 2008. Barbara Jones-Hogu In 1968, a group of artists came together at the request of Jeff Donaldson in the studio of Wadsworth Jarrell to discuss the premise that Black visual art has innate and intrinsic creative […]

A Conversation With Barbara Jones-Hogu

By Barbara Jones-Hogu — In 1973, Edward Springs, the former director of the Studio Museum of Harlem, wrote, “AFRICOBRA—African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists—from their perspective as Afro-Americans are attempting to identify style and rhythm qualities that are expressive of Black people and people everywhere. It is the age for moving beyond mere rage—it’s nation time. And Black artists […]

The Chicago April 1968 Oral History Project

By Samuel Barnett — Very little gets said about the riot that raged after the murder of Martin Luther King. Yet this history is ever-present, written large in the vacant lots and boarded up buildings along once-busy West Side business districts. The point of this project has been to speak with those who were most impacted by the riot, […]

Section Introduction

By Daniel Tucker — What is the relationship between then and now? This is the basic question of any effort to research, produce, uncover, perform or re-invent history. In this section of 68/08 you will be introduced to people who are attempting to deal with the connection between one moment and another through a variety of tactics: re-enactments, re-readings, […]

Archiving 1968

By Estelle Carol — Selections from an open-ended conversation held at DOVA Temporary in early September, 2008, with four individuals engaged in archiving projects that relate to 1968. We talked about the work they are currently doing, the challenges they face, and their strategies for the future. Thanks are also due to Judy Roothaan and Nathaniel McLin and others […]

The Legacies of the Sojourner Truth Organization

By Daniel Tucker — In 1969, there was a national meeting in Chicago of the large U.S. student group known as the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). At this famous meeting the group’s leadership split into factions—signaling that the ideological and organizational tensions which were not being addressed properly within SDS were finally bubbling to the top. The […]

Autonomous Grassroots and Non-Profit Organizations

By Daniel Tucker — Eric Tang is a researcher, writer and trainer with a background in community organizing for over ten years in the South Bronx. He recently took a job in the African American Studies and Asian American Studies programs at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In this email interview, he discusses his contribution to the important […]

Rick Rick Perlstein on Richard Nixon and the Politics of Division

By Aaron Sarver — Interviewed by Aaron Sarver In 2001, Rick Perlstein released his debut book, Before The Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus. Praised by both the left and right the book announced Perlstein as a credible historian of the Conservative movement. A self-described New Deal Democrat, his second book, Nixonland: The Rise of […]

Educating ‘68

By Eve Ewing — During a recent discussion about progress and failures in Chicago’s public schools, I was challenged to define the purpose of education. My companion proposed that the goal of education is to teach human beings about their own fundamental freedoms—to teach them that they are free on earth, free to think and act as they wish, […]

What if Chicago had been an orgy?

By Benjamin Shepard — Notions of play interact ceaselessly with efforts focused on emancipation, pleasure, social protest and pluralistic democracy. [1] While the Yippies and the rock band MC5 offered a bit of playful spectacle in Lincoln Park during the Chicago riots of 1968, it is difficult to confirm they had anything to do with shifting the predominant story […]


By BLW — In 2004, BLW attended PILOT TV: Experimental Video for Feminist Trespass, an event that opened felicitously with artist/curator Dara Greenwald’s presentation of some archival activist videos that were not readily available at the time[1]. Troubled by our captivation with these documents, we tried re-enacting them with a small group of Pilot co-participants. We found this […]

17 actions for 1968/13 actions for 2008

By Lucky Pierre — 17 Actions for 1968 The following actions are to be performed in the year 1968. If you do not live in or cannot get to 1968, they may be performed in another year. Please account for any temporal gaps or regret.  ACTION: Voice Piece for 1968 (after Emmett Williams). Step into Chicago. Proceed to the […]

If it’s not love, Then it’s the OM that will bring us together

By Bert Stabler — In The Political Unconscious, Fredric Jameson uses Freudian concepts such as repression and projection to explore literary texts as attempts to deal with capitalism’s contradictions. Casting fantasy as the “vehicle for our experience of the real,” Jameson addresses some simplistic excesses of other Marxist scholars who have unduly disparaged the importance of culture. He suggests […]

Letter to the Re-Enactors

By Paige Sarlin — What would it mean to re-enact the organizing? I’ve been thinking a lot about the practice of re-enactment. A practice takes material (in this case historical material) and transforms it, producing something with or from it. The practice of re-enactment has the potential to produce new forms of knowledge, more than just unearthing information about […]


By Nicole Garneau — UPRISING is a series of monthly public performances exploring ideas and practices of revolution. All of the UPRISINGs are performed by a crew of volunteers who may or may not be performers, who show up wearing white clothes and learn the performance an hour before it starts. UPRISING references the fact that 2008 is 40 […]

Mapping 1968 Through The Lens Of 2008

By Dave Pabellon — Text and Photos by Monica Barra for AREA ChicagoMap Design by Dave Pabellon Based on Sam Barnett’s 1968 Oral History Project My family and I were sitting at home watching the news. You know, at that time Vietnam was the topic because every time you turned on the TV you see something happening overseas concerning […]

Young Lords 40th Anniversary

By frank-edwards — This is a report back from the 40 Years of Struggle event held on Sept 21, 2008 at the San Lucas UCC in Humboldt Park. The event was intended to be a look back at the legacy and work of the Young Lords, as well as a reunion of former Black Panther, Young Lords and […]

Other Organizations Commemorating 1968

By AREA — Interview with other Chicago organizations having ‘68 anniversaries This year was the 40th Anniversary of the tumultuous year of 1968. You decided to mark that year with an exhition at DePaul University. Why?“Anniversaries are often artificial markers of elapsed time, but in this case there seemed to be many reasons to revisit the history of […]

Looks Like Freedom

By Rebecca Zorach — Our organizing group sat discussing the fine points of exhibition planning in a lounge area with a large picture window. Suddenly there was an arc of wingbeats, a series of small parabolic collisions: a sparrow was trapped in the room, trying, over and over again, to escape through plate glass that looked like freedom. Working […]

Section Introduction

By Rebecca Zorach — “We are people of this generation, bred in at least modest comfort, housed now in universities, looking uncomfortably to the world we inherit.”—Port Huron Statement of the Students for a Democratic Society, 1962 “And the lonely voice of youth cries ‘What is truth?’”—Johnny Cash One of the more astonishing things about the opening line of […]

Notes on Generation Monkey

By AREA Staff — When I ask my mother what she remembers of the MLK assassination, she talks about expecting me to be born any day.  The strands that tie the slaying of the leading figure in the struggle for civil rights and Black liberation to the near-concurrent birth of a second child to quiet immigrant parents in an […]

1968: Art and Politics in Chicago

By Euan Hague — On the wall outside the DePaul University Art Museum a photograph shows six soldiers walking, and a vehicle carrying many more, silhouetted against an eerie orange background. The image, by Art Shay, is of Grant Park in 1968. The ghostly mist enshrouding the anonymous soldiers is tear gas. Shay’s photograph is uncannily similar to Robert […]

Intergenerational Dynamics

By Chris Brancaccio — Growing up, all of the older women I knew (mainly my two grandmothers and the grandmothers of my friends) were anything but activists.  Then there is Judy.  I had to interview Judy for a class assignment; I wanted to know about 1968 from the perspective of someone who hadn’t been a youth, wasn’t in the […]

Altered by Ebony

By AREA Staff — In 1968, a well-dressed African American gentleman appeared at my Irish Catholic grandmother’s front door requesting that my grandmother subscribe to his magazine.  My grandmother, impressed by this gentleman’s kind manner and sincere work ethic, invited him in and offered him lemonade.  They had a nice visit, during the course of which she subscribed to […]

Between Lefts

By Eric Triantafillou — In this issue of AREA, devoted to a retrospective of the 1960s and its traces in our DNA, I thought it might be helpful to get a sense of the political climate before the 1960s. The politics we on the Left inherit, though heavily influenced by the 1960s, didn’t miraculously begin in that decade, but […]

A Meadow In Lincoln Park

By Peter Zelchenko — I am pacing. I’m spending the night of August 21, 2008, pacing the floor of a 10’ x 8’4” x 10’ cell in the downtown police lockup at 1718 S. State. I’ve spent some time mentally calculating this, based on the size of a cinder block, eight by sixteen inches including mortar lines. I will […]

Bob Crawford and Margo Natalie Crawford

By Bob Crawford — Excerpts from an intergenerational dialogue held at the South Side Community Art Center on October 23, 2008 between father and daughter Robert (Bob) Crawford and Margo Natalie Crawford. Photographer Bob Crawford defies the boundaries between documentary-style photography and art photography. As a photographer of the Black Arts and Black Power Movements in the 1960s and […]

JB Monorail

By Theaster Gates — There are moments when I think that my life on the Westside of Chicago had no real relationship to the history of political struggle. I had not yet been born, the trophies of that era that hung around my house in the form of handmade protest signs, banners and buttons, not to mention Afro wigs, […]

Mark and Michael

By Mark Shipley — Mark Shipley, 27, and Michael Thompson, 60, met in Chicago in 2003, and both participate in the Chicago Honey Co-op. Begun by Michael Thompson and others, the co-op raises honey bees and other food plants and crops on the west side of Chicago. After hearing about the AREA issue theme, Michael and Mark decided to […]