Past Event

I Need to Make A Dollar: Protest Songs of Illinois Workers, 1865 to 1970

A Road Scholar Program by Bucky Halker

When most people think about Illinois history, they recall important political figures or industrial magnates. They summon names like Abraham Lincoln, Stephen Douglas, and Adlai Stevenson, or Armour, Swift, and Pullman. Of course, they also recall gangsters and athletes from the past. In short, they tend to think that the rich and powerful make history and not average citizens. In truth, we might better understand our history if we would turn to the people who built the state, the workers and farmers who labored to make Illinois an economic powerhouse. These are the people who went to battle in the Civil War and every war that followed. Such people also diligently pressured the state for economic, political, and social reform and helped to make it a better place for everyone. With that in mind, this musical program brings the voice of the people to audiences, letting workers tell their story “from the bottom up.” The program features a sampling from the thousands of songs written by Illinois workers, allowing audiences to gain insight into the vision these workers had for a better, more just, and more democratic state and nation.

This event is Free and Open to the public. For more information, please contact Bill Pixley at