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Roundup of Student Reporting on Chicago Inauguration Events

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Inauguration day on campus
The University community came out in droves across campus Tuesday to watch the inauguration of Barack Obama. Mandel Hall hosted a viewing and discussion of the historic event. (Photo by Lloyd DeGrane) 

Thank you to the folks who have shared their personal perspectives on the Inauguration with Chicago Studies! Here's a selection of photos and writing from Chicago Studies staff and friends.

First, pre-k students in snow boots and formalwear.
Inauguration day in Hyde Park
Inauguration day in Hyde Park by Chicago Studies. The pre-kindergarten students of Bouchet Math and Science Academy dress up for their own "Inauguration Ball." (Photo by Rachel Cromidas)

Mandel Hall was packed during the Progress and Politics event on Tuesday morning.
Robert Gooding-Williams, Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, and Charles Branham, Senior Historian at the DuSable Museum, led a discussion after viewing the inaugural address.
Inauguration day on campus
Photo by Lloyd DeGrane.
Kelin Hall records the cautious optimism of Branham and Gooding-Williams.

Aretha Franklin's performance, he said, changed his expectations for national hymns, and Elizabeth Alexander's poem was the "most engaging, least predictable," part of the event, which "brought it back to the ordinary," affirming Obama's message that we need changes not just in policy, but in the way we treat each other.

Showcasing African American talent, Gooding-Williams said, symbolically affirmed the African American accomplishment. Branham said that in contrast, the "bombastic" nature of the inauguration's opening sermon and introduction, and the un-nuanced linking of Obama with King's legacy, left him "unimpressed."

Supriya Sinhababu reports on inauguration-watching events in Hyde Park.

While Obama's barber Zariff took in the inauguration from the National Mall, Tony Coye tended to the shop's customers between media interviews. Coye says an average of two or three people per day come in asking for the same cut Obama gets.

"I have a client coming in today--her hair is down to her butt," Coye said. "She's getting an Obama cut."

Thalia Gigerenzer watched the inauguratioin from Valois Cafeteria on 53rd Street.

"I remember him handing out literature on the street corner," said Jimmy Prowell, 70. "At first it was hard to imagine him in the White House."

With its cheap eats and friendly conversation, Valois has become a symbol of the diverse community that made Obama--a fact that was not lost on the seven TV stations that marched into Valois armed with video cameras and microphones. 

An employee at Valois Cafeteria--a longtime Obama hangout--take time out to watch Tuesday's inaugural program. Photo: Thalia Gigerenzer

For more student coverage of the inauguration, check out the Chicago Studies inauguration cluster or the Chicago Studies Presidential Inauguration Flickr stream.

Studs Terkel, Chicago Legend

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"Curiosity did not kill this cat" is what author, activist, actor, radio and television pioneer and Chicago legend (and UofC Law Alum) Studs Terkel claimed as his epitaph.  Studs died at his home on the North Side on Friday.

Studs Terkel's page has "Conversations with America", a collection of interviewed for his books and his radio program.

As a lifelong Chicagoan, I grew up with Studs on the radio and have seen and learned much about Chicago by reading his books, listening to him talk, and hearing him listen.

John Burge Charged with Lying about Police Torture

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Retired Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge was arrested Tuesday on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice in relation to the decades-long police torture scandal in Chicago.  Here's the Tribune article.

The Chicago Reader's John Conroy has been reporting on the story for two decades.  The Reader's police torture archive includes a who's who on the scandal and 20 questions for Mayor Daley.

The New University Conference

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"A national organization of radicals who work in, around, and in spite of institutions of higher education."

One of the least-appreciated but most fantastic resources on campus is the Special Collections Research Center in the Reg. Among its many resources are thousands of documents, rare manuscripts, letters, photographs, and ephemera that have been collected since the University's founding in 1892. Presidents' papers, students' notes, yearbooks, student publications, and assorted RSO paraphernalia are all easily accessible, and can provide more nuance to history than a secondary account ever could. The archivists and librarians in Special Collections are tremendously knowledgeable and helpful in turning the myriad resources into usable material, making primary research an absolute pleasure.

Last winter, I was enrolled in the Chicago 1968 course, which involved a good deal of archival research. I focused on student activist groups in the late sixties, and turned up a surprising number of parallels to current activist RSOs. The New University Conference organized a walkout at Billings Hospital that was uncannily similar to the battle SOUL (Students Organizing United with Labor) and campus and hospital staff waged last year to secure a fair contract. The Chicago Women's Liberation Union and Chicago Women's Union held a conference with workshops that prefigured several of the Feminist Majority's events from spring quarter 2008.

Below I've summarized some of my findings about one student group, including citations to the relevant archives in Special Collections. Check out the finding aids to see if the RSOs you're involved in have precursors. Were they working for the same things your group is today? Was membership similar? Were their hairstyles particularly ridiculous? All good questions.

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