We are thrilled to be presenting our 2018 preservation project, American Revolution 2, at the Stony Island Arts Bank at 7pm on Friday, November 30th. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with Henry “Poison” Gaddis, Mike James, Hy Thurman, and Jakobi Williams.
Although American Revolution 2 begins with footage of the explosive confrontations between the Chicago police and protestors during the 1968 Democratic National Convention, the filmmakers (Howard Alk, Mike Gray, and Bill Cottle) quickly move from these clashes to focus on conversations about power, race, and resistance that were taking place in the city. The film is a nuanced, compelling, and timely examination of the unlikely relationship that was developing between the Black Power movement in Chicago and the Young Patriots, a group of impoverished, primarily white, residents of the Uptown neighborhood who were beginning to organize around issues of social mobility, police brutality, and income inequity.
This preservation project and presentation is in honor of Mike Gray and Bill Cottle of the Film Group. CFA’s friend Mike Gray passed away in 2013. The preservation of American Revolution 2 was made possible with the generous support of the National Film Preservation Foundation and Rebuild Foundation.
“A film every Chicagoan should see … as well edited and as high in technical quality as any cinema verite documentary I’ve ever seen.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
Michael James is a veteran on the 1968 Democratic Convention demonstrations and the political and cultural struggles of that era. He has received considerable notoriety regarding 1968 having been photographed rocking a police paddy wagon during events at Michigan and Balbo. A Woodrow Wilson Fellowship took him to California where he did graduate work in sociology at the University of California Berkeley 1964-66. There he was active in the Free Speech Movement and became a member of Students for a Democratic Society, later becoming a national officer of SDS. While at Berkeley he began doing community organizing in West Oakland, then moved to Chicago to work with Uptown residents, many from the South, with the organization JOIN (Jobs or Income Now) Community Union. James went on to found the organization and newspaper Rising Up Angry (1969-75). RUA was part of Chicago’s Rainbow Coalition that also included the Black Panther Party, Young Lords Organization, Young Patriots, and American Indian Movement. In the early 70’s he began teaching a course at Columbia College called Organizing for Social Change. In that class his ideas for community based economic institutions evolved, and in 1976 James co-founded the Heartland Cafe, a restaurant and community institution that serves “good wholesome food for mind and body”, and continues to be an inspirational community institution. James co hosts The Live from the Heartland Show on WLUW 88.7 fm, is a member of the board of directors of Athletes United for Peace, The Rainbow Council of Elders, and a member of the Advisory Committee of the Cornucopia Institute (an organic food and farm watchdog organization. He is past President of the Democratic Party of the 49th Ward organization and a member of the Screen Actors Guild.
Henry “Poison” Gaddis is a native of the South Side of Chicago. Gaddis began his foray into social justice activism while still a student in elementary school. At the age of nine, Gaddis led a march with A. Phillip Randolph, Roy Wilkins, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and 10,000 others on the 1960 Republican National Convention at the Chicago Amphitheatre to demand that a civil rights plank be included as part of the Republican Party platform. In the fall of 1968, while enrolled at Northeastern Illinois State College, Gaddis traveled to East St. Louis, IL to attend the Illinois Chapter of the NAACP State Convention. Also in attendance was the newly elected Chairman of NAACP Youth Council, Fred Hampton. As a result of this encounter and impressed by Hampton’s eloquence and world view, Gaddis agreed to join the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party (ILBPP) and served on the Chicago Central staff. He was commissioned as Foreign Service Officer in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter and went on to serve in various assignments including United States Consul to the Republic of Cote D’Ivoire. Gaddis has traveled to six continents, worked in several countries, and served as an advocate for issues affecting the African diaspora. Throughout his professional career, Gaddis has had a variety of experiences including serving as a Boy Scouts of America District Executive, Deputy Coroner of Allegheny County Pennsylvania, and as Assistant Dean of Student Affairs at Texas Southern University. He currently resides with his family in Houston, Texas and is a volunteer with the Harris County Aquatics Program.
Hy Thurman has dedicating himself to improving the lives of marginalized and oppressed people by leading them into action to control their daily existence. He began his civil rights advocacy in the 1960s when he moved to Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, a predominately southern white community. Thurman became a community organizer and co-founder of the Young Patriots Organization, a group of displaced southern white youth. He co-founded the Original Rainbow Coalition, an interracial organization that brought together the Young Lords (a Puerto Rican gang turned political), the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, and, later, Rising Up Angry. With the assistance of the Black Panther Party, the Young Patriots created survival programs including free health clinics, breakfast for school children, free legal services, and police brutality patrols. Thurman has reformed the Young Patriots and is working to make their history widely available. His other accomplishments include: founder of Emerald City, the first drug abuse treatment program on Chicago’s north side; co-founder of the Uptown People’s Center of Northeastern Illinois University; and founder of Blues to Bluegrass, a city-wide organization that worked with musicians and artists to perform benefit programs for grassroots organizations. Thurman presently resides in Alabama where he continues the fight to liberate all poor and oppressed people.
Jakobi Williams is the Ruth N. Halls Chair and Associate Professor in the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies and the Department of History at Indiana University-Bloomington. He was born and raised on the south side of Chicago (Englewood). Prior to joining the faculty at Indiana University, he served as an Associate Professor of History at the University of Kentucky, an adjunct professor at UCLA, and spent one year as a Chancellor Post Doctoral Fellow at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Williams’ research interests are centered on questions of resistance and the social justice revolutions found within the historic African American community. His most recent book, From the Bullet to the Ballot: The Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party and Racial Coalition Politics in Chicago, was published by the University of North Carolina Press under its prestigious John Hope Franklin Series. Williams is a recipient of the National Endowment for the Humanities grant, the National Humanities Center fellowship, and the Big Ten Academic Alliance-Academic Leadership Program. He is completing two books, Neighborhoods First and Global Call of Power to the People. Both books examine the monumental impact of the Black Panther Party on non-African American groups both domestically and abroad as a model for grassroots community organizing to address disparities and disadvantages.