ALUMNI FELLOWS

 
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RAY SANTISTEBAN | TIME OF THE PHOENIX: THE FIRST RAINBOW COALITION

Time of the Phoenix: The First Rainbow Coalition (working title), a feature-length documentary now in post-production, charts the history and enduring legacy of a largely forgotten but groundbreaking multi-ethnic coalition that rocked Chicago in the 1960s and laid the tracks for every significant American social movement organized across racial lines to this day. Comprising young activists from the Black Panthers, Young Patriots and Young Lords, Chicago’s Rainbow Coalition (1969-1973) united poor African Americans, Southern Whites and Latinos to collectively confront police brutality and substandard housing in one of the most segregated cities in postwar America. What began as a drive to achieve a voice for poor communities quickly grew into a formidable youth-driven political movement, attracting the support of other disenfranchised groups and the retaliation of a threatened Chicago political machine determined to destroy it — as well as the scrutiny of the FBI. The movement eventually collapsed in 1973 under the weight of relentless harassment by local and federal aw enforcement agencies, culminating in one of the pivotal moments of the 1960s: the assassination of Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark. Yet the after-image of the Rainbow Coalition is apparent today in every movement that brings young protesters to the streets, organizers to the neighborhoods, change candidates to the ballots, and citizens of all colors to the polls. From “Occupy” protests against income inequality to demonstrations against police brutality, contemporary multi-racial movements bear the identifying fingerprints of the Rainbow Coalition.

 

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