Press Release


The Public Square at the IHC hosts a day-long gathering of activists, scholars, and artists to launch an ongoing conversation about issues during the 2008 election season.

CHICAGO – As the 2008 election season speeds ahead, The Public Square at the Illinois Humanities Council invites you to “Festival of Democracy: Unleashing Radical Imagination” on Saturday, October 20th from 1:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Experimental Station (6100 S. Blackstone Ave., Chicago).

This day-long gathering includes three panel discussions, performances by young artists, and a “People’s Party” with performances by hip-hop artists Idris Goodwin and Ugochi to end the evening. Speakers include Rashid Khalidi (Columbia University), Laura Flanders (Air America), Bill Fletcher (Center for Labor Renewal), Bernardine Dohrn (Northwestern University), and Salim Muwakkil (In These Times).

This event is free and open to the public, but reservations are required and can be made by e-mailing or calling 312.422.5580. Dinner will be provided.


1:30-3:15PM Presidential Politics

What does the presidential playing field look like right now and what is the current political landscape? What issues are the candidates talking about, and just as importantly, what aren’t they saying? This discussion includes Laura Flanders, host of “Radio Nation” on Air America; Bill Fletcher, co-founder of the Center for Labor Renewal; Barbara Ransby (moderator), Associate Professor of History and African-American Studies at the University of Illinois Chicago; and Quentin Young, founder of the Health and Medicine Policy Research Group.

3:30-5:00 PM Rashid Khalidi in conversation with Salim Muwakkil

How does the occupation of Iraq and U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East affect us in Chicago, the U.S., and beyond? How are the war in Iraq and the crisis in the Middle East linked to injustices in the prison system, immigration reform, and global warming? How can we promote democracy in seemingly undemocratic and violent times? Rashid Khalidi is the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies and Director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University. Salim Muwakkil is a senior editor of In These Times and the host of “The Salim Muwakkil Show” on WVON Radio.

6:30-8:00 PM Resistance and Liberation, Then and Now: An Intergenerational Conversation

What can we learn from past movements for social justice? What are the visions and dreams that are inspiring new generations to create social change? This discussion includes Bernardine Dohrn, Clinical Associate Professor of Law at Northwestern University; Stan Willis, criminal defense and federal rights lawyer and co-chair of the Chicago Conference of Black Lawyers; Lisa Yun Lee (moderator), director of the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum; Yunuen Rodriguez, an active member of Females United for Action; and Leena Odeh, a student at Carleton College and a founding member of Ella’s Daughters.

8:00-9:00 PM People’s Party

This celebration features performances by Idris Goodwin and Ugochi, emceed by Kevin Coval, Artistic Director of Young Chicago Authors and Co-founder of The Chicago Teen Poetry Festival: Louder Than A Bomb.

“Festival of Democracy” is co-sponsored by Experimental Station, Civic Knowledge Project, Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media, the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at DePaul University, and the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum. Partnering with The Public Square on this event are the Columbia College Chicago Television Department and the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture at the University of Chicago.

The Illinois Humanities Council is an educational organization dedicated to fostering a culture in which the humanities are a vital part of the lives of individuals and communities. Through its programs and grants, the IHC promotes greater understanding of, appreciation for, and involvement in the humanities by all Illinoisans, regardless of their economic resources, cultural background, or geographic location. Organized as a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1973, the IHC is now a private nonprofit (501 [c] 3) organization that is funded by contributions from individuals, corporations, and foundations; by the Illinois General Assembly; and by the NEH.


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