By Yadira Lopez ’21
On March 27, the History Department had Scott Priz, a historical performer from the Chicago History Museum, conduct the Chicago History Night at Pritzker to help students learn more about the 1968 Democratic Convention.
Priz started by assigning roles to volunteers before the presentation. Multiple students volunteered to be Yippies while other students volunteered to act out the role of the Chicago Police Department. Other students volunteered or were called up during the presentation to read speeches from Mayor Daley, Richard Nixon, Robert Kennedy, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, President Lyndon B. Johnson, and many more.
The presentation explained what was going on during this time. Some examples include the Vietnam War, Martin Luther King’s assassination, and multiple protests about the presidential candidates. In the end, he emphasized the idea that things fell apart during this time and left the U.S. in a worse place; however, people continued and should still continue to fight for what they believed in.
This event was coordinated by sophomore World History teacher and head of the History Department Charles Rosentel. When interviewed, he explained the different steps he had to take: contacting Priz and ensuring his availability, conferring with the History Department to decide the topic of interest, asking for Priz’s approval on the topic, making sure Priz would be fairly paid, and promoting the event. Chicago History Night, in general, was implemented to “commemorate [Chicago History] and make it more interactive and communal.” Rosentel also stated that this was an opportunity to learn about a new event and be entertained by the portrayal.
When asked about the learning experience, Sophomore World History teacher Bryan Williams stated, “[The students] get the benefit of learning about a new topic that is very close to them […] I think that being from Chicago, [and] we teach in Chicago, […] and we are talking about events that specifically happened in Chicago[…] makes it that much more interesting […] and impactful.” Williams also mentioned that he enjoyed this experience due to the participation of students in the event.
From the students’ perspective, sophomore Isis Gonzalez stated, “I think it was a really fun experience because they acted out the roles, so you could visually see in front of you while they explain what was going on.” She would definitely recommend other students to attend future events like these. Junior Noel Candelaria stated, “Being there and being actively engaged as one of the protestors was very interesting because you got to see the perspective of what these people actually went through and be more alert and engaged with the event itself.” Candelaria would recommend students to attend this event, so students “learn a little more about the city and what makes it great and […] even things that weren’t so great in the past but have improved.”
Rosentel and Williams stated that this event will be occurring next year and how “at the end of the day [they] just want [the students] to learn about this event,” according to Williams.