Welcome to 1968
Welcome to 1968.
They say: time is a circle, history repeats itself. Fifty years later, we reflect on the past and our present, and how the future can be defined. Once again, the government lacks morality and we, the people, are FED UP. Again, we are angry and must stand up to create change.
Nineteen-sixty-eight was a year of seismic change, the “year that changed history.” After two traumatic assassinations, there was a toxin loose and invasive, a discomfort with the way things were—and the collection of all this energy, anger, drugs, and music came to a critical mass, leading to inevitable upheavals in daily life in America.
To cultivate a sense of upheaval in your world, today we present to you a special Lumpen, with collected stories from activists old and new, including a few reprints from AREA Chicago, The Hinterlands Ensemble, and past Lumpen issues. In these articles, we remember the great protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, as told from the perspective of an eleven-year old (Jim Duignan); of kids who shouted, as the police knocked them down, “the whole world is watching” (Jim DeRogotis); of a child who was lost and later found hanging out with Alan Ginsberg and Jean Genet, on the cover of Time (Mike Klonsky). We remember the people taking back their city during the May ‘68 rebellions in Paris (Madeleine Aquilina) and the points righteously demanded by the Black Panther Party and the Young Lords. If you don’t remember any of this, it’s 1968 and the future is now: start this issue at the En_psychlopedia of Chicago.
I am twenty-three, the same age now as the people who led the revolution fifty years ago. In the past few months of putting this Lumpen together, I’ve met legends like Mike and Susan Klonsky of Students for a Democratic Society, Bill Ayers of the Weather Underground, and Cha Cha Jimenez, a major founder of the Young Lords. We’ve worked to create a narrative that illustrates the power of these young adults and their continued activism.
As a first-time editor, I found myself noting how those who weren’t resisting didn’t make it into the history books. For example, the prosecuting attorney of the Chicago Seven Trial (a group of young adults who helped organize the masses protesting in Chicago, August 1968) was a man named Tom Foran. I Googled him and found that he doesn’t even have an established Wikipedia page: nothing! The defendants, by contrast, have thick Wikipedia entries with admiration accumulated over the years. Yeah, they had to spend some time in prison, but, more importantly those seven (originally eight) wrote history. It is true what they say, you know? Well-behaved [people] seldom make history.
We live in the age of social media, and the desire to make a mark—to be remembered—but there is a lack of depth and community momentum. As millenials, how can we transform ourselves into a generation that creates change and turns things around in America? Today, activism looks different, but nonetheless requires organization and fortitude.
In 1968, the nervous breakdown of a nation was spurred on by the power of television and young middle-class people who had the privilege of being heard. In 2018, with Trump’s imminent destruction of America and the proliferation of social media, we are again boiling under the surface. We will resist the system and create change.
Where were you in 1968? Where are you in 2018?
nora catlin, editor