Revolt in Uptown Chyicago

During the 1960’s a unique social movement arose in the Chicago neighborhood of Uptown. An estimated 40,000 southern migrants, many from the Appalachian mountains of West Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky lived in that diverse community.  They had came to Chicago seeking work and new lives after leaving the largely rural poverty of the American South.

They found a world of brutal urban poverty and racism in a city known for its violence and corruption. Despite its legacy of slavery, political repression and white supremacy, the American South also had a tradition of multiracial resistance that had never been  stamped out. This spirit of rebellion was reborn in Uptown against the economic deprivation and political repression of 1960’s Chicago.

Uptown Tenement (1960s)

Southern migrants from Uptown organized the Young Patriots and joined with African Americans in the Black Panther Party, Puerto Ricans in the Young Lords Organization, radical students from the Students for a Democratic Society and others across Chicago. Together they called themselves the Rainbow Coalition. It was a working class multi-racial liberation movement which challenged poverty, police brutality and the iron-fisted Democratic Machine of Mayor Richard J. Daley.

Though relatively short-lived as an organization, the Rainbow Coalition model of multi-racial organizing had a national impact whose legacy continues down to the present day.

This website will attempt to tell its story. We plan to add more material and invite you to submit original writings or copies of relevant documents, photos, or artwork you may own. You may contact us here.

A traveling exhibit of materials from the original Rainbow Coalition and artist`s interpretation of that history will be shown in Philadelphia, PA at the University of Pennsylvania`s Kelly Writer House and Chicago, Il at Columbia College`s A&D Gallery.