Using the same techniques as "Ned Kelly," please discuss and answer the following question:
Were the Chicago Seven martyrs?
So before you start reading this really long entry, keep in mind that I took this adventure a little differently than assigned....
Tracing my learning through the Part 2 of this Learning Adventure has been mostly reading the conversations and research that others in our program have found. I am truly impressed with the revelation that Donna came to regarding the misperceptions and biases our own backgrounds give us towards learning. I know that when discussing things associated with the Vietnam War I have a huge bias because my father fought in Vietnam and it wasn't until I was 20 years old that he actually told my entire family what happened to him over there. He struggled for years knowing that he killed others.
One night while sleeping, his hill was over ran by Charlies (Viet Cong) and my dad and one other man were sole survivors. In fact, my dad should have died that night. A Charlie's gun misfired and my dad at that point was able to grab it out of the man's hand and kill him rather than being killed. He was awarded the silver star for his acts (one of only two men in North Dakota where I am from) Just thinking of all my dad has had to deal with by serving his country and how his country treated him upon his return, has created in me a bias towards soldiers who gave their lives in a war. That war for many changed their perceptions of war.
So thinking about Donna, Sonja's definition of martyr, Jodi's links to sources recognizing my own bias' about protestors and draft dodgers, I opened up my mind to the possibilities on this one....I decided to expand my learning a little past the assignment. Seeing how in 1968 I wasn't even alive, my dad was in Vietnam fighting and my mom was awaiting the fate of her fiancée, I decided to look into the DNC convention. Who were the candidates, what were major issues that they were debating? Interestingly enough, pigs were still a topic in elections.
I learned that Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy were killed shortly before the convention leading to an increase in heightened emotions throughout the US. Additionally, the US was involved in the Vietnam War. Apparently, during the convention the protests outside the convention center were receiving amazing media attention (hmm, just like the war) and so the police were at an increased level of security. Lyndon Johnson should have been the presumptive nominee for the DNP but after tragic numbers in the polls as well as health issues, and battling a never ending war in Vietnam decided not to seek reelection. Hubert Humphrey the vice president ended up receiving the nomination from his party even though he had never entered a primary before. With this nomination as well as the descending of 10, 000 protestors onto Chicago's streets, the air was ripe for malevolence. The protestors were outraged at the treatment they were receiving from the police and thus decided to fight back. They were encouraging the over reacting police to use tear gas. It soon escalated out of control in front of television cameras rolling. This brings to mind the Rodney King incident during the LA riots (don't we ever learn?)
So while learning all about the situation taking place before the Chicago Seven I was hoping it would lead me to be more sympathetic towards their freedom of protest. But alas, much like Ned Kelly, I am finding my biases are getting in the way of my learning. I think I need to take a lesson form the book "The Art of Possibility" to start looking at this learning adventure as one where I am a contributor in a different way. I might not agree that they are martyrs, but I do see that they stood up for their beliefs, and I think that is important in this day and age.
What I can personally take away from this learning adventure is the ideal that I want my students to be strong in their convictions much like I am, but open to the possibilities and other points of view as I was with Ned Kelly and the Chicago Seven. I learned that we haven't learned much from our past, but continue to make some of the same mistakes. Reflecting a little more, maybe what is important here is that these were all people, people who were strong in their beliefs, stood up to injustices they felt, and did not back down. I think as Americans, we could at least appreciate that even if we don't approve of their methodologies.