CHICAGO--  (April 20, 2012)  Activist and entrepreneur Michael James will lead a walking tour for the South Loop Historical Society recounting his experiences at the 1968 Democratic National Convention on Wed., May 9, 2012 at 5:00 p.m.  The tour will begin at the corner of Michigan and Balbo, the center of the explosive violence that broke out while the whole world was watching. 


The tour centers on several blocks surrounding the Hilton Chicago. It will include the Balbo bridge, the site of the band shell, the Logan Statue, and other landmarks. Registration is limited to 25. Tickets are free to members of the South Loop Historical Society, $10 for adults, and $5 for students. To register, email your name and contact information to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (312) 939-0111 ext. 1820.


Michael James is an activist entrepreneur: an activist, businessman, actor, writer, photographer, and speaker.  Mr. James is a veteran on the 1968 Democratic Convention demonstrations, and the political and cultural struggles of that era. He has received considerable notoriety regarding 1968 having been photographed rocking a police paddy wagon during events at Michigan and Balbo.

Mr. James came to the Chicago area from his native Connecticut to study at Lake Forest College. He did graduate work in sociology at the University of California Berkeley 1964-66, where he was active in the Free Speech Movement and became a member of Students for a Democratic Society, later becoming a national officer of SDS. After entering community organizing in West Oakland, he moved back to Chicago to work with Uptown residents via JOIN (Jobs or Income Now) Community Union.  In 1976 Mr. James co-founded the Heartland Cafe, a restaurant and community institution that serves "good wholesome food for mind and body" and continues to this day to be an inspirational community institution.

Mr. James is co host of the weekly radio show, The Live from the Heartland Show on WLUW 88.7 FM / (Saturday's 9-10 am), is a member of the board of directors of Athletes United for Peace, The Rainbow Council of Elders, is a member of the Advisory Committee of the Cornucopia Institute (and organic food and farm watchdog organization), is the President of the 49th Ward Democratic Party Organization, and a member of the Screen Actors Guild, having worked in films including Stony Island, The Package, Above the Law, Code of Silence, Under Siege, The Fugitive, Chain Reaction, and The Guardian.

He is currently working on two photo books : Mexico 1962, and The Heartland Cafe: The First Thirty-five Years, is getting a new photo show ready, and was recently featured recounting activities during the 1968 Convention in a History Detective episode:   He is featured in a new book, Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels and Black Power.


The South Loop Historical Society is a non-profit virtual history museum on the Internet at, focused on the area bounded by Congress Parkway on the north, the South Branch of the Chicago River on the west, the Stevenson Expressway on the south, and Lake Michigan on the east. The mission of the organization is to connect area residents to the rich and vibrant history of Chicago’s South Loop and serve as a framework to provide area students an opportunity for scholarship, research, and management experience.


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