Democratic Convention – 1968!

Familiar Sounds of History – 1968 DNC!

SAN FRANCISCO, (RUSHPRNEWS) AUGUST 6, 2008–Growing anger toward war, more and more families plunged into poverty, questions of human rights violations, debates about racial equality, election campaigns’ fever pitch – sounds like the fodder for television talk shows today, right? True enough, but it was also the reality experienced by United States citizens forty years ago when the 1968 Democratic National Convention erupted in battles both inside the convention center and outside on the streets of Chicago, recorded by Pacifica Radio.


Mainstream U.S. news reporters may have been caught off guard, they may have even been influenced by political decisions on what to tell the American people and what to suppress, but one stalwart media organization was there, recording the true voices and sounds of the era – Pacifica Radio. Founded in 1948 to provide a broadcast venue for voices of peace, Pacifica Radio has always offered the unreported or underreported stories.

Pacifica Reporter Mike Hodel: “There are two Democratic Party Conventions in Chicago in August of 1968. One is inside the International Amphitheater, with banners and placards and gavels and speeches. The other is in the streets and parks of Mayor Richard Daley’s city with tear gas and rocks and mace and clubs and, most of all, with blood. And the cloud marked Vietnam hangs over both, tangling them together.”

Tensions were high as people still grieved that year’s assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy. The Chicago police responded with tear gas and gunfire, heard in these historic recordings. Pacifica reporters were there in the streets; themselves running from the violence as they recorded these explosive turn of events in the election climate of 40 years ago.

Excerpt: Outside the ’68 Convention a Pacifica reporter is caught between police and demonstrators: ‘There’s now a line of police in helmets. There’s a few brave photographers and others in the middle. I am now in line between the demonstrators on one side.. I’m going to get out the way as a few demonstrators are throwing rocks, etc. …I had to quickly retreat as someone began to throw a few cans. I want to get close enough so that they can see that this is Pacifica Radio here and not police radio. You can begin to now… feel the gas. They’re moving back slowly. I don’t know where we are in the park, there are no street signs… The kids are now moving back into the street. And for the first time, this reporter can’t feel whatsoever it is.. that’s.. They’re firing and pushing and shoving.. I’m trying to get far enough back so I can see what’s happening but it’s almost impossible to be able to give you a report as my eyes again… I’m going to have to.. (starts coughing hard).’

Recordings include sound from inside the DNC, Bobby Seale (Black Panther Party co-founder), comedian Dick Gregory at President Lyndon Johnson’s “un-birthday” party; and reports on the police brutality from poet Allen Ginsberg and radio personality-author-oral historian Studs Terkel.

These are the sounds of history not heard on mainstream media of 1968, but have been restored and are available for all now bringing sounds of this era alive today. This audio will assist in any story telling of the 1968 DNC.

Excerpt from inside the 1968 Convention with Senator Wayne Morse: “The issue is whether or not the Democratic Convention is going to vote today to continue to kill American boys in South Vietnam. We can’t possibly justify this killing of our boys. We gotta have a change in policy and I hope the Democratic Party will take advantage of the opportunity to unite the party. And they’ll never unite this party unless they change the policy in Vietnam.”

One of the organizers of the 1968 DNC protests and member of the “Chicago 8,” Tom Hayden, comments, “Thanks to the Pacifica Radio Archives, this generation can listen to the sounds of Chicago 1968, the speeches, the sirens, the police clubbing, that carry an eerie resemblance across the decades to this time, to this illegal and unjustified war, and to these places, St. Paul and Denver, where peace and justice advocates will be out in the streets  keeping the Bill of Rights alive. Pacifica was there for us then, and  Pacifica is there for us now. You can’t say the same for the mainstream media.” Hayden is the author of two new books on the subject,
Writings For a Democratic Society: The  Tom Hayden Reader and Voices of the Chicago Eight: A Generation on Trial both just-published by City Lights Books.

One of Pacifica Radio’s best known on air personalities is Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now! She shares her observations of these rare recordings, “Out on the streets, Pacifica reporters were in their element, covering the quickly changing action, the fiery speeches and the violence. Throughout the 1960s, in Pacifica Radio, one name seemed always be connected to the biggest events of that decade: Pacifica, produced an award-winning documentary called ‘A Night in Chicago’ about the events outside the convention that summer in 1968. This recording is universally acknowledged as one of the most quintessential Pacifica programs in the Archives’ collection.”

The 1968 Revolution Rewind collection restoration has been made possible in part from a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. These recordings are free to students, teachers, and others associated with non-profit organizations.

Featured Clips:
Allen Ginsberg telling Pacifica Reporter about police brutality. Listen Here
Black Panther Bobby Seale in Lincoln Park Protest (:47) Listen Here
Pacifica Radio reporter Bill Watson reporting while getting tear-gassed during protest. Listen Here

A Passel of Pomp A Circus of Circumstance – Historic Convention Coverage from Pacifica Radio Archives 1936 – 2000
Convention Chairman Carl Albert trying to call a disruptive delegation to order. Listen Here
Senator Wayne Morse (D-OR) Describes the major conflict in the platform on Viet Nam. Listen Here

Highlights of the Pacifica Coverage of the 2004 Democratic and Republican National Conventions
Listen Here

Pacifica Radio’s 2008 live coverage of the Democratic National Convention, the Republican National Convention and the Green Party Convention can be heard at www.pacifica.org .

Resources for planned demonstrations of 2008 Democratic National Convention

Rocky Mountain News

Colorado IndyMedia Center

Los Angeles Times Protesters gearing up for the political conventions. http://cts.vresp.com/c/?HMS/9c798ae060/TEST/f0cb666586

For more information about these, and other recently restored recordings from the Pacifica Radio Archives, check out the 1968 Revolution Rewind Project <http://cts.vresp.com/c/?HMS/9c798ae060/TEST/ddc81b3bc8> on your local Pacifica Radio station. http://www.pacificaradioarchives.org/projects/revolution/index.html

CONTACT: Brian DeShazor, Director, Pacifica Radio Archives
(800) 735 0230 X 263 pacarchive@aol.com Pacifica Radio Archives, “A Living History”
www.pacificaradioarchives.org

Tom Hayden is available for interviews: Contact Stacey Lewis Stacey@citylights.com and 415 362 1901.

Voices of the Chicago Eight features dramatically edited transcripts from the explosive 1969 conspiracy trial paired with historic contextual writings to provide the essential Chicago Conspiracy handbook. Writings For A Democratic Society collects the best of Tom Hayden’s writings from the turbulent 1960s to the Iraq war. Read more about both books at: http://www.citylights.com.

Funded, in part, by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.