by Brian Mullgardt
Southern Illinois University Press, 2024
eISBN: 978-0-8093-3936-5 | Paper: 978-0-8093-3935-8
Library of Congress Classification F548.68.L5
Dewey Decimal Classification 977.3110904


Police brutality, gentrification, and grassroots activism in 1960s Chicago

In August of 1968, approximately 7,000 people protested the Vietnam War against the backdrop of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. This highly televised event began peacefully but quickly turned into what was later termed a “police riot.” Brian Mullgardt’s investigation of this event and the preceding tensions shines a light on the ministers, Yippies, and community members who showed up and stood together against the brutality of the police. Charting a complex social history, Wear Some Armor in Your Hair brings together Chicago history, the 1960s, and urbanization, focusing not on the national leaders, but on the grassroots activists of the time.

Beginning in 1955, two competing visions of urban renewal existed, and the groups that propounded each clashed publicly, but peacefully.  One group, linked to city hall, envisioned a future Lincoln Park that paid lip service to diversity but actually included very little. The other group, the North Side Cooperative Ministry, offered a different vision of Lincoln Park that was much more diverse in terms of class and race. When the Yippies announced anti-war protests for the summer of ‘68, the North Side Cooperative Ministry played an instrumental role. Ultimately, the violence of that week altered community relations and the forces of gentrification won out.

Mullgardt’s focus on the activists and community members of Lincoln Park, a neighborhood at the nexus of national trends, broadens the scope of understanding around a pivotal and monumental chapter of our history. The story of Lincoln Park, Chicago, is in many ways the story of 1960s activism writ small, and in other ways challenges us to view national trends differently.