Students organize tours of campus alternative history

Circle Forum

The Circle Forum was the scene of demonstrations and rallies from the late 1960s through the mid 1990s.


Subtle glimpses of past student protests remain on campus, if you know where to look.

In the Art and Design Studios building, for example, five protest posters are plastered to the ceiling, reminders of student rallies from the late 1960s and 70s. One poster says “Free Huey,” calling for the release of Black Panther Party co-founder Huey Newton, who was imprisoned for killing a police officer in 1968.

The community can learn about UIC’s days of protests, rallies and sit-ins on three alternative campus history tours led by UIC graduate students this week and next. The free one-hour tours begin at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. April 18 and 2:30 p.m. April 23, starting at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum. Download the map for a self-guided tour.


Man speaks at a lectern during Moratorium Day

Moratorium Day to End the War in 1969.

The tours were researched and organized by 17 students in Art History 544, led by Therese Quinn, director of the museum and exhibition studies program.

“There are amazing stories about buildings we see every day,” said M. Camila Vargas, graduate student in museum and exhibition studies. “We had no idea about them until we did the research.”

For her part in the project, Vargas researched the organizing history of the quad. A two-story classical amphitheater known as the Circle Forum was located there from the 1960s to the mid-1990s, the site of rallies supporting Martin Luther King Jr. and protests against the Vietnam War. “There are so many stories about campus organizing — there’s a lot that’s happened in the quad that people don’t know about,” she said.

The tour will include stops at the Gender and Sexuality Center and Latino Cultural Center to talk about the events that led to their creation, Vargas said.

Students are still collecting stories about UIC’s organizing history, Vargas said. Email stories to or share them on Facebook or Tumblr.


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