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The Wall of Respect: Book Release and Panel Discussion
November 9, 2017 @ 6:00 pm–8:00 pm
The Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture, The Seminary Co-op Bookstores, and Northwestern University Press proudly host this important discussion on one of Chicago’s most important contributions to public, social, and artistic justice.
Through personal accounts and historic tributes, The Wall of Respect and its movement are brought back to life—once again re-entering the conversation on social justice and the power of public art.
“The Wall of Respect: Public Art and Black Liberation in 1960s Chicago” is the first in-depth, illustrated history of a lost Chicago monument. The Wall of Respect was a revolutionary mural created by fourteen members of the Organization of Black American Culture (OBAC) on the South Side of Chicago in 1967. This book gathers historic essays, poetry, and previously unpublished primary documents from the movement’s founders that provide a visual guide to the work’s creation and evolution.
The Wall of Respect received national critical acclaim when it was unveiled on the side of a building at Forty-Third and Langley in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood. Painters and photographers worked side by side on the mural’s seven themed sections, which featured portraits of Black heroes and sheroes, among them John Coltrane, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, and W. E. B. Du Bois. The Wall became a platform for music, poetry, and political rallies. Over time it changed, reflecting painful controversies among the artists as well as broader shifts in the Civil Rights and Black Liberation Movements.
At the intersection of African American culture, politics, and Chicago art history, The Wall of Respect offers, in one keepsake-quality work, an unsurpassed collection of images and essays that illuminate a powerful monument that continues to fascinate artists, scholars, and readers in Chicago and across the United States.
ABDUL ALKALIMAT is an activist and the founding chairperson of the Organization of Black American Culture, which led the creation of the Wall of Respect in 1967. He is an emeritus professor of the School of Information Sciences and the Department of African American studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Professor Alkalimat received his PhD in sociology from the University of Chicago.
ROMI CRAWFORD is an associate professor in the Department of Visual and Critical Studies and in the Department of Liberal Arts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Professor Crawford received her MA and PhD in English literature, theory, and criticism from the University of Chicago.
REBECCA ZORACH is the Mary Jane Crowe Professor of Art and Art History at Northwestern University. Professor Zorach received her PhD in Art History from the University of Chicago.