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The Way The Wind Blew: Weather Underground Screening Tomorrow

By Scott Smith in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 15, 2004 5:50PM

Exciting news for students of the history of the sixties and Chicago’s place in it: the Chicago Historical Society will present a screening and discussion of the Academy Award-nominated film The Weather Underground this Tuesday from 6:30 to 9:30 PM. Though the film was shown at this year’s Chicago Underground Film Festival back in August, tomorrow's post-screening discussion here will include former Weathermen Bill Ayers and Bernadette Dohrn with co-director Bill Siegel.

The Weathermen Underground was a radical left splinter group of the 2004_11_15_weathermen.jpg
Students for a Democratic Society that advocated violent protest of American governmental policy in Vietnam. They believed that in order for real change to occur, it was necessary to “bring the war home.” In addition to placing bombs in the Pentagon and the U.S Capitol (though they often warned their intended targets by phone before detonation), the Weathermen were also responsible for Chicago’s “Days of Rage”, a three-day North Side riot of smashed windows, injured pedestrians and armed battles with Chicago police. Forced underground, the Weathermen eventually turned themselves in but were acquitted due to gross procedural misconduct by the prosecution. Ayers later married Dohrn and is currently a Professor of Education at UIC though his bio unsurprisingly omits this period in his life.

It’s quite obvious that the world outside your window is much different than it was in the 1960s. Though there’s still a Daley in City Hall and activism is still alive and well in many quarters, the ballot or the boycott—not the bullet or the bomb—are the current preferred methods of social protest. “Memory,” as Ayers points out in his book Fugitive Days, “is a motherfucker.” So is historical perspective. In a post-McVeigh, post-September 11th America, the “fight fire with fire” mentality of the Weathermen seems like misguided fanaticism at best or terrorism at worst. Ayers’s view has always been that the Weathermen did what they felt was right.

Tickets are only five bucks—a small price to pay to witness living history.