It is a bit ironic that 50 years ago today, the very disruptive Democratic Convention took place. It was a very dramatic period in the history of our country with massive protests and police brutality against the protesters taking place during the convention. It was a time when the country was in an upheaval about the Vietnam War. The protests and the establishment’s response to the protests as represented by Chicago’s Mayor Daily calling out the police and using heavy force against the protesters underscored the depth of the rifts that divided our country at that time.
What was ironic was that today, Mary Margaret and I drove over to Rockford to participate in a protest rally regarding the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh as Supreme Court Justice. While neither of us participated in the protests during the 1968 Democratic Convention, we did become active in protesting some of the major social issues of our time. Mary Margaret became active in supporting the Black Action Movement and the Women Rights Movement during her college years, while I participated in the anti-war March On Washington in 1969.
Today’s protest rally was significantly different than the rallies we participated in back in the late 1960’s. First, today’s rally was not very well organized nor advertised. We only learned about it on Friday via an email. We never heard anything about it over the TV or radio. It was supposed to be a national protest but one would never know that given the lack of information being broadcast about it.
Another difference was back in the late 1960’s the protesters were mainly young people of both sexes. Of the 30 or so people who showed up today, almost most were old farts like ourselves. I think the average age of those who showed up was well into their 60s. Also, most of the people were women. The 6 men there were outnumbered by the 24 women present.
A last difference was that the protests of the late 1960’s took place in central localities, where traffic and business activities would be disrupted, drawing lots of attention, especially from the press. Today’s rally was located in front of the Federal Court House, which is on an out-of-the-way, lonely street, where few cars drove by. It appeared to us that nobody, outside of those of us there, knew or would know about the protest. It was so disappointing…
After about an hour of holding up signs and waving at the few cars that passed by, we received a couple of stirring speeches by a few of the fellow protesters and then disbanded. Outside of ourselves, I don’t believe anyone else knew what had gone on. Sigh.