August 28th – The Whole World is Still Watching

Rainbow Coalition press conference 1968 Fred Hampton (L), Cha Cha Jimenez next to Mike Klonsky (R).

It is very exciting to hear first-hand accounts of events or activities that are important to history.   Please join us on Tuesday morning, August 28th, 2018 from 9:00 a.m. to noon to hear from people who were not only present in Grant Park on this day fifty years ago, but were organizers of the many protests that led up to the events surrounding the 1968 Democratic National Convention.  You can RSVP here.

We are pleased that there are so many activities throughout the city and country recognizing this important moment in political history.  We are especially pleased that we can feature organizers of the day who can provide the context and details of what was happening in the city and the country – indeed, throughout the world – in the years leading up to August 28, 1968 including civil rights efforts and protests of the war in Viet Nam.  Don Rose, for example, was a local press secretary for Martin Luther King (when he came to Chicago) and “was an organizer and press spokesman for the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, which was the principal organizing group for the convention demonstrations.”  In 1968, Mike Klonsky was the national secretary of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and “played an active role in organizing the protests at the Democratic Convention in Chicago.” Marilyn Katz was a high school organizer of SDS and a leader of the Marshalls Squad.

Our guests – all still active today – will provide details on what happened in Lincoln and Grant Parks.  José “Cha Cha” Jimenez and Billy “Che” Brooks were at the Convention protests “as participants being impacted.”  Cha Cha, founder of the Young Lords and motivated by conditions in the Puerto Rican community in Lincoln Park, will speak on how the events surrounding the protests affected him and his work in the transformation of the Young Lords into a national human rights organization. Che will discuss his work with the education arm of the Black Panthers Party in Illinois.  Mary Scott-Boria, a life-long resident of Chicago, was not at the convention, but will speak to the trajectory of her community service beginning in the 1960s with her anti-racism and racial justice work. Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, a youngster at the time, remembers watching the tear gas and police beatings on TV and will share how the events of the 60s led to his own activism and community service that has lasted for decades.

Finally, collectively, panelists will discuss the constitutional rights of assembly and the role of social protest in a civil society.  Following opening statements and a rich conversation among the panelists, the forum will open to a town hall format with questions and comments from those in attendance.

The moderators for the event are Laura Washington, Chicago Sun-Times columnist and ABC 7 Chicago political analyst, and Teresa Córdova, Director of UIC’s Great Cities Institute.

Please see bio’s below of our speakers.

We would also like to call your attention to another related event commemorating 50 years since the founding of the Young Lords being held at DePaul University September 21-23.

Earlier this year, we hosted another Fifty-year Commemoration event – the release of the Kerner Commission Report.  You can see the full video of the event as well as a short video with some highlights.

We hope to see you next Tuesday at the University of Illinois at Chicago Student Center East, 750 S. Halsted, 9:00 a.m. – noon.  Parking (for a fee) is available in the parking lot on Polk and Halsted (enter on Taylor Street). We are also up the street (south) from the UIC/Hasted stop of the Blue Line. RSVP here.

Bios of Panelists for The Whole World is Still Watching:

Don Rose is a political consultant heading Don Rose Communications and The Urban Political Group, and writes a weekly online column for the Chicago Daily Observer ( The column won the Chicago Journalists Association award for commentary four times in the past six years. Based in Chicago, his consulting firms have operated in 13 states. Clientele has included Supreme Court justices, U.S. senators, governors, mayors and state and municipal legislators. Long active in the peace and civil rights movements he served as Dr. Martin Luther King’s Chicago press secretary during the civil rights leader’s campaign here and in 1968 was an organizer and press spokesman for the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, which was the principal organizing group for the convention demonstrations.

Mike Klonsky is a retired educator, author of several books on education reform and the co-founder and former director of the Small Schools Workshop. A national anti-war and civil rights activist in the ‘60s, he was the national secretary of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in 1968. SDS was the largest militant student group in the country at that time and played an active role in organizing the protests at the Democratic Convention in Chicago. He was targeted for attack by the Justice Department under the government’s Operation COINTELPRO and arrested in a raid on the SDS office in 1969. He has stayed active in labor, civil rights, anti-war organizing since then. He’s now the co-host of Hitting Left radio show on WLPN FM in Chicago and blogs at Schooling in the Ownership and Mike Klonsky’s SmallTalk Blog. Mike received his Ph.D. in education from the University of Illinois at Chicago

Marilyn Katz is a writer, political and public policy strategist and activist who combined those skills in 1983, at the conclusion of Harold Washington’s successful run for mayor to create MK Communications, the firm of which she is president.  Moved by actions of the civil rights activists in the south,  as an undergraduate at Northwestern, she first joined SDS *Students for a Democratic Society) and very quickly went to uptown Chicago to organize for JOIN Community Union – an off-campus project of SDS.  BY 1968 she was deeply embroiled in organizing high school students across the city, to oppose the war and racism and expand student and women’s rights.  IT was this activity that led her to be a key organizer for the April 68 Chicago demonstrations against the war and to be  a leader and deputy head of security for the demonstrators during the events of August 1968,  Ms. Katz has been continuously active politically since that time, organizing the 2002 rally in Chicago at which Obama made his fateful anti-war speech and most recently being a founder of Chicago Women Take Action – a multi-racial, multi-generational organization striving for equity and equality for all women and their families.

José “Cha-Cha” Jiménez was the founder of the Young Lords as a national human rights organization. It was founded in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago on September 23, 1968. Cha-Cha was born in Caguas, Puerto Rico on August 8, 1948. He helped the Young Lords transform from a street gang into the Young Lords Organization and a component of the original Rainbow Coalition. YLO emerged onto the national political scene after they staged a series of grassroots actions on behalf of the poor people of Lincoln Park. They disrupted Lincoln Park Conservation Association meetings in Lincoln Park, confronted the real-estate brokers and landlords, created the Peoples Church and the Peoples Park, and forced the McCormick Theological Seminary to provide resources for the community. The Young Lords held the first large demonstrations in Chicago for Puerto Rican self-determination. Cha-Cha ran for alderman of the 46th Ward and garnered 39% of the vote, becoming the first Hispanic to run and oppose the Cook County Democratic political machine of Richard J. Daley.

Billy “Che” Brooks was Deputy Minister of Education of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPP) and the former director of YouthLAB@1521 through the Better Boys Foundation, retiring in 2015. In 1968, Che worked closely with BPP Chairman Fred Hampton who was the main spokesman of the Black Panther Party in Illinois. As one of the primary leaders of the BPP, Mr. Brooks was under constant, daily harassment by the Chicago Red Squad and Gang Intelligence Unit. He also worked closely with the Young Lords through the Rainbow Coalition. Currently, Brooks is facilitating a living history project at the Oak Park Library and is working with former BPP Party members to commemorate the fifty year inception of the founding of the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party.

Mary Scott-Boria is a lifelong resident of Chicago, arriving to Chicago at 15 where she was immediately immersed in the Chicago Freedom Movement as a young activist. Immediately upon graduating from high school she joined the Black Panther Party where her activities led her to working with the Puerto Rican Socialist Party. Mary has over 50 years of experience and knowledge of Chicago’s communities, having worked as a professional social worker and human services administrator in several not for profit organizations. Her work and interests have been in women and youth issues and in community organizing and politics. She served as the first executive director of the Chicago Sexual Assault Services Network, director of Youth Services Project (YSP), a executive committee member of the Cook County Democratic Women, and most recently as director of the Urban Studies Program of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest. Mary holds a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her leadership in the Anti-Racism Institute of Clergy and Laity Concerned led her to seminary where she completed her Master of Divinity degree from the McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. She served on the training team of the Christian Peacemakers Teams and was most recently active with the Mikva Challenge Foundation and CLAIM (Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers).

Jesus “Chuy” Garcia is the outgoing District 7 representative on the Cook County Board of Commissioners in Illinois. He has long been involved in the politics of Chicago, serving as Alderman of the 22nd Ward on the Chicago City Council from 1986 to 1992 and District 1 representative in the Illinois State Senate from 1993 to 1999. Commissioner Garcia is a 2018 Democratic candidate seeking election to the U.S. House to represent the 4th Congressional District of Illinois. Garcia earned a B.S. in political science and a Master’s Degree in urban planning and policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. His experience includes work as the founding executive director of the community development organization Enlace Chicago and service as the founding chair of the board for Latino Policy forum and as a member of the boards of Woods Fund Chicago and The Center on Leadership Innovation.