Original Rainbow Coalition

A conversation about the Chicago Black Panthers and Young Patriots Organization and collaborating across race and class in the 1960s


Fields of Knowledge
  • Artistic legacies
  • Memory
  • Politics / Economics
  • Public culture
  • Social Justice

Contributing Institutions



Daniel Tucker

Opens to public





4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104


100% Formal - 0% Informal

Slought is pleased to announce ""Original Rainbow Coalition," a public conversation and screening on Friday, January 15, 2016 from 6:00-8:00pm about the Chicago Blank Panthers and Young Patriots Organization and collaborating across race and class in the 1960s. The program will explore the history of white people organizing in Chicago, in keeping with the mandate from the Black Power movement to "organize your own" community against racism.

Fifty years ago, the members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) made a historic call. Stokely Carmichael wrote: "One of the most disturbing things about almost all white supporters of the movement has been that they are afraid to go into their own communities--which is where the racism exists--and work to get rid of it. They want to run from Berkeley to tell us what to do in Mississippi; let them look instead at Berkeley... Let them go to the suburbs and open up freedom schools for whites." Carmichael's call for white communities to organize themselves against racism led to a wide variety of experiments nationally.

Among these, the short-lived history of the Rainbow Coalition in Chicago is a unique example of how those groups negotiated race and class across self-determination movements by bringing together groups such as the Young Lords, the Black Panther Party, Rising Up Angry, and the Young Patriots Organization. This event will examine the history of the Original Rainbow Coalition as well as its historicization. It will begin with an introduction by Young Patriots member Hy Thurman (Huntsville), followed by a screening of the film American Revolution 2 (1969), directed by Mike Gray and Howard Alk. It will be followed by a panel discussion moderated by artist and scholar Edward Onaci (Philadelphia) with authors Jakobi Williams (Bloomington), and James Tracy and Amy Sonnie (Oakland) exploring the inspiration and impact of multiracial coalitions.

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American Revolution II, a documentary by Howard Alk and Mike Gray, charts their journey to a deeper understanding of race relations and the political reality outside of the 1968 student demonstrations at the chaotic Democratic Convention in Chicago.

The filmmakers follow Black Panther Bobby Lee as he attempts to find common cause with the poor Appalachian white community living in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood. The seemingly disparate groups find shared social and political objectives that overcome racial differences – police violence, poverty, lack of employment, and poor living conditions.

The potential for a cross-racial and interethnic political movement is the movie's beautiful but unrealized dream.

-- Chicago Film Archives

Hy Thurman is a community organizer and co founder of the Young Patriots Organization and the Original Rainbow Coalition. He received a degree in Cultural Anthropology in 1973.

Jakobi Williams is an Associate Professor at Indiana University and the author of From the Bullet to the Ballot: The Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party and Racial Coalition Politics in Chicago.

James Tracy teaches Community Organizing at City College of San Francisco. He is the author of Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels, and Black Power and Dispatches Against Displacement.

Amy Sonnie is an activist, educator and librarian and author of Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels, and Black Power and Revolutionary Voices. She is a founder and board member of the Center for Media Justice.

Edward Onaci is an Assistant Professor of History at Ursinus College. Also known as Brotha Onaci, a DJ and music producer, he is the co-founder of the People's DJs Collective and Sonic Diaspora.

Other Programs

This program is presented in conjunction with Organize Your Own: The Politics and Poetics of Self-Determination Movements.

Support provided by Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, and from A & D Gallery at Columbia College Chicago, Kelly Writers House's Brodsky Gallery, Asian Arts Initiative, and MCA Chicago.

Other programs include:

Kelly Writers House
January 14 and 19, 2016, 6pm

Asian Arts Archive
February 13, 2016, 12:30pm

More information: