Forgotten History: The Chicago White People’s Uprising of 1966 – Conclusion
By Martin Kerr
The “Chicago White People’s Uprising” is the name given to a series of events that took place in the summer of 1966. Beginning in July, and stretching through into September, White workers, homeowners and youth took to the streets of that city to physically defend their neighborhoods from being forcibly integrated by Negroes, who were under the leadership of Martin Luther King, Jesse Jackson and other Black agitators.
From the end of July through August 14, White resistance took the form of violence directed against Negro “opening housing” protests. Although no one was killed, many people were injured, automobiles were set on fire, and dozens of angry Whites were arrested. The local Whites felt completely isolated and deserted by the politicians, the police and the churches. A change took place on the 14th however, when activists from the American Nazi Party distributed thousands of placards to Whites protesting the Negro marches. The placards bore a giant Swastika and the words “White Power.” From that point on, the actions of the enraged Whites had a new, political dimension: instead of protesting against the Blacks, they began to protest in favor of White Power, that is, their own racial interests.
A game-changer in the uprising came on August 21, when ANP Commander George Lincoln Rockwell addressed a mass meeting of 2,000 cheering Whites in Marquette Park. Rockwell explained that while White violence had been understandable and had achieved a measure of success, in the long run it was necessary for White people to come together and organize politically to secure the safety and integrity of their neighborhoods. The ANP, he told them, was the group that could provide that organization. He received an enthusiastic response from the crowd.
Four days later, King and his cohorts met with city officials and called off further marches into the White working class neighborhoods in southwestern Chicago. Unorganized rioting would eventually burn itself out, or else be finally controlled by the police, King must have realized. However, a united White community coupled with militant political leadership was something else altogether.
In order to solidify the gains that the ANP had already made, and to demonstrate White political muscle, Rockwell issued a call for a “White People’s March” to take place on September 10. The purpose of the march was to protest moves by the politicians and realtors to move Negroes into all-White neighborhoods. The route of the march would take it primarily through White areas, but would also include a brief incursion into the Black ghetto. If Negroes can protest on White turf, it is only fair that Whites be allowed to do the same in Black neighborhoods, Rockwell argued.
The authorities were unhappy about the planned march. Cook County Sherriff Richard Ogilvie told reporters that he would arrest Rockwell if he set foot in the county. “On what charges?” he was asked. “I don’t know – I’ll think of something.” Ogilvie replied.
On August 29, Rockwell showed up at the sheriff’s office with a gaggle or reporters in tow. He said that he had heard that he was going to be arrested, and he wanted to know what the charges against him were. Rockwell was immediately arrested for disorderly conduct – specifically, for bringing reporters with him into the station, thus creating a commotion. In a rare pro-Rockwell editorial, the Washington Evening Star commented:
Sheriff Ogilvie, we think, has let himself be played for a sucker. Under the circumstances, the arrest of Rockwell was not only stupid, it was plainly illegal. Certainly no court will sustain it. But it will give Rockwell something to talk about the next time he mounts the stump.
Rockwell posted a $25 bond and was immediately released.
A flurry of lawsuits then ensued as the date for the White People’s March approached. Rockwell was denied permission for the marchers to use the streets, but instead they would be confined to the sidewalk. The Jewish War Veterans filed a petition in Federal court demanding an injunction against both the march and a rally in the Chicago Coliseum scheduled to follow the march. The petition was denied. Editorials denouncing the march appeared in major newspapers, in Jewish publications, and in the Communist Party tabloid, the Daily Worker
The White People’s March
The morning of the march arrived. Rockwell and his handful of ANP members gathered at Gage Park, and waited to see who would join them.
No one knew how many people would attend the event – nor what would happen once the Whites crossed over into the Negro section of town. Anti-ANP types were predicting that the Negroes would massacre the Whites. Rockwell had told the press that he was expecting 3,000 marchers, but surely this estimation was either wishful thinking or else a ploy to gain media attention. For their part, the authorities hoped that the march would fizzle, and that it would amount to no more than Rockwell and a dozen or two of his uniformed followers making a token effort to get on the evening news.
But there were no uniforms. Instead, the ANP had produced hundreds of white T-shirts, with a Swastika and the words White Power printed in red. Rockwell’s followers donned the shirts, and Party cadres were told to hand them out to any local Whites who joined them. The marchers were also given an upgraded version of the White Power/Swastika poster to carry.
At first only a few local people walked over to Rockwell and his men. Then more showed up. Soon dozens and dozens of Whites were streaming into the park. Photographs show that most of the marchers were men in their late teens or 20s, but others were middle aged. Some women and children also participated, and in a few cases whole families joined the procession.
The police became alarmed as more and more local Whites arrived to join the march. At noon, the police placed a cordon around those who had already gathered, and no one else was allowed to join them. Rockwell was told that if he wanted to march, he had to do so immediately. Although he would preferred to have waited longer to let more people arrive, when he saw that the police would not allow this, he and his followers stepped off. In all, there were about 300 marchers. Different news media sources give estimates of the number of police assigned to the event ranging from 400 to 750 officers.
The New York Times printed a 30-paragaph front page article on the march the next day. It said that the Whites carried American and Confederate flags, and that some marchers had brought signs with them. “Stop Black Riots,” said one. “Mayor Daly, Where is ‘Your’ Negro Neighbor?” asked another. Over 1,000 Whites lined the streets and cheered on the marchers as they began. One woman stood on her front porch with a homemade sign reading “Welcome Rockwell Savior of Whites.” As the march passed her home, she dashed from her property, pushed her way past the police and joined in.
The march was 38 blocks long in all. The first part snaked through White residential neighborhoods as it headed towards Western Avenue. This was the demarcation line between the White areas of town and the Black ghetto. As Rockwell and the marchers began to cross over, they were intercepted by a contingent of police officers, who placed Rockwell under arrest. He was charged for failing to have a permit for the speech that he had made in Marquette Park three weeks earlier. At Rockwell’s side was ANP member Ralph Forbes, who was the West Coast leader of the Party. In addition to being a captain in the Stormtroops, Forbes was also a Christian Identity minister, and he was dressed in black with a Roman collar. Forbes stepped in front of Rockwell in an effort to block the police, and he, too, was arrested.
Perhaps the police thought that with Rockwell removed, the march would dissolve. But that did not happen. Instead, Chicago ANP leader Chris Vidnjevich and other party officers stepped forward and took over. To the dismay of the authorities and the surprise of the press, the march continued.
After crossing Western Avenue, the column continued past a rundown Negro business district before entering a Black residential neighborhood. The New York Times reports that 700 Blacks lined the route. Some of the Negroes responded with catcalls and insults as the marchers strode by, while others sang traditional Black spirituals. A commotion broke out among the Negroes, as two teenagers attempted to throw a vial of acid at the Whites. They were arrested, and two Black bystanders and a police officer were treated at a local hospital for acid burns. A couple of minutes later another Black broke from the sidelines and hurled himself at the march. The Times says laconically that he was “clubbed and arrested” by the police. A fourth Negro was arrested in a separate incident.
And then: nothing. As the march continued, the hundreds of sullen, unhappy Blacks contented themselves with staring glumly at the Whites and shouting out an occasional insult. The dire predictions of a “race war” and a “bloodbath” had proven wrong. The march concluded without further incident. Only six persons had been injured, including those in the acid attack.
The “White Power” Rally at the Chicago Coliseum
The marchers arrived back at Gage Park, their kick-off point, in high spirits. They had successfully defied both the city authorities and the Blacks, and they had conducted themselves in an organized, disciplined and lawful manner. Clearly this was a White victory in every respect. Vidnjevich headed off to pick up Rockwell and Forbes at the police station, while other ANP cadres hurried down to the Coliseum to get it ready for the mammoth White Power rally scheduled for the evening. The party had spent $1,000 to rent the venue. This was an astronomical sum for the ANP, which was always strapped for cash. But Rockwell felt that he could easily recoup that amount and more in contributions from the mass audience that he was expecting.
But there was a hitch. Furious at having been embarrassed by the success of the White People’s March, city hall had ordered the police not to release Rockwell until it was too late for him to attend the meeting. They then leaked word to the media that the meeting had been cancelled because Rockwell would not be in attendance. The false information about "cancellation” was then broadcast in television and radio news reports. But the meeting had not been cancelled, and was scheduled to go on, with or without Rockwell. Vidnjevich and his comrades did the best they could to get the word out in the White neighborhoods that the meeting was still on, but it was an uphill struggle.
Rockwell and Forbes were finally released around 8:00 pm, and hustled off to the meeting site. The Coliseum, which could have held several thousand people, was nearly empty: less than 100 people showed up. Nevertheless, Rockwell and his colleagues went ahead as planned. It was an emotionally-flat, anti-climactic conclusion to what had otherwise been a successful day.
The events of September 10 marked the de facto end of the uprising. Although some Negro agitation continued, especially in Cicero, the wind was out of their sails. King had left, and soon Rockwell was gone as well. Other political duties and responsibilities awaited him elsewhere. With the end of the Negro demonstrations, and an assurance that their neighborhoods would remain White for the foreseeable future, local support for White militancy waned.
Vidnjevich announced another White People’s March, to take place in the Jewish neighborhood of Hyde Park. He explained to the Times:
The Jews are the real troublemakers…They’re the ones – we’re going to march right through their neighborhoods and spit in their eyes…The niggers were docile when we marched but the Jews might try to kill us.
A Federal judge granted a temporary motion against the march, and when it expired he made it permanent, so the march never took place. But in any event, there was little enthusiasm for it among the Whites who had supported the ANP up until then. They understood the immediate danger to their neighborhoods that the Blacks presented, but it would take more political education to make them see that the Negroes were merely a tool being used by the Jews to break down the racial homogeneity of White communities.
Summing Up: Proof of Concept
The immediate value of the uprising in turning back the effort to forcibly integrate all-White neighborhoods is obvious. But, on a different level, the revolt was also important because it validated Lincoln Rockwell’s overall strategy for building American National Socialism. He had endlessly explained to his followers that the broad masses of White people would reject National Socialism and continue to support the Old Order until their backs were to the wall and they had nowhere else to turn. Sooner or later that day would come, he claimed, because the Old Order was committed to policies that would inevitably lead to racial disintegration and that would threaten the physical existence of White people. At that point, the radicalism and extremism of National Socialism that previously had been off-putting to ordinary Whites would become appealing.
Rockwell noted with some satisfaction that efforts of other White groups, such as the National States Rights Party and the Klan, to organize the Chicago Whites had been completely unsuccessful. When he first showed up at Marquette Park on August 21, he found the pavement blanketed with discarded copies of the NSRP tabloid The Thunderbolt. When the White masses were ready for action, these other groups just were not radical enough. But the image that Rockwell had forged for himself – of being an extreme and uncompromising proponent for White people at all costs – was exactly what the local population was looking for.
Rockwell returned to his Arlington headquarters and mulled over the events in Chicago for several months. The time was right, he decided, to transform the ANP from a noisy fringe group that specialized in street theater into a serious political alternative for angry White Americans. Accordingly, on January 1, 1967, he changed the name of his party to the National Socialist White People’s Party, and instituted a series of changes to completely revamp party operations.
Unsurprisingly, these developments were viewed with great alarm by both the Jews and the Federal government. Rockwell and his “Nazis” were no longer just a nuisance – they were growing into a serious potential threat.
A year after the culmination of the White revolt in Chicago, Lincoln Rockwell was dead. On August 25, 1967, he was murdered from ambush two blocks from his headquarters. A “lone gunman” was quickly arrested and convicted, but it was clear that he was only the tip of a broader assassination plot.
As we mentioned at the beginning, today the White People’s Uprising has been all but forgotten. But it was an important event, nonetheless. It should be carefully studied by today’s National Socialist cadres, because its lessons hold great value for the future. Similar conditions such as those that obtained in 1966 Chicago will occur in the future, as American Whites slip to minority status, and all electoral roads to national salvation and racial redemption become closed. Our duty, as revolutionaries, is to be ready to exploit those situations as they evolve.
For us as National Socialists, White Americans becoming a minority in their own country is not the end of our struggle – rather, it is its beginning.