Social Protest 50 Years after the 1968 Democratic National Convention
On the night of August 28, 1968, thousands of young, primarily white, activists headed for the Democratic National Convention in downtown Chicago, intent on protesting the Vietnam War. Mayor Richard J. Daley dispatched an army of police officers and called upon the National Guard and U.S. Secret Service. Activists appealing for peace were greeted by nightsticks and tear gas, as were reporters and Eugene McCarthy convention delegates, as they tried to exercise their First Amendment rights. The debacle was televised and triggered outrage around the nation. The protestors chanted: “The Whole World is Watching.”
Fifty years later, the world is still watching. In the age of Black Lives Matter, Me-Too, Time’s Up and Families Belong Together, that iconic moment offers lessons and raises questions about war and peace; state-sanctioned violence; and police brutality. Who has the right to protest? Who decides? What is the role of social protest in the 21st Century? How have militarization, surveillance and technology changed protest?
On August 28, 2018, exactly 50 years later, UIC’s Great Cities Institute will host a provocative and urgent program exploring why “The Whole World is Still Watching.” Participants include organizers of the 1968 protests who will bring personal accounts, including reflections on the period leading up to that day. These and other panelists will discuss the personal and historical significance of these events. Key to the discussions are questions about the role of social protest in a civil society.