Millikin Professor Dr. Brian Mullgardt’s new book focuses on urban renewal and the events of the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago

“Wear Some Armor In Your Hair: Urban Renewal and the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Lincoln Park” was published by Southern Illinois University Press.

Millikin campus

May 11, 2024

DECATUR, Ill. – Millikin University Professor of History Dr. Brian Mullgardt has released a new book, “Wear Some Armor In Your Hair: Urban Renewal and the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Lincoln Park,” which focuses on police brutality, gentrification, and grassroots activism in 1960s Chicago.

The book was released on May 10, 2024, and published by Southern Illinois University Press. 

In August of 1968, approximately 7,000 people protested the Vietnam War against the backdrop of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. This highly televised event began peacefully but quickly turned into what was later termed a “police riot.” 

Book cover

Mullgardt’s investigation of this event and the preceding tensions shines a light on the ministers, Yippies, and community members who showed up and stood together against the brutality of the police. 

Mullgardt specializes in U.S. history in the Cold War era, emphasizing social activism during the “Long Sixties” (1955-1975). He has served as the Vice President of the Macon County Historical Society and Museum and on the Board of Directors for the Illinois State Historical Society. He has published in several journals, including the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society and the Journal of Illinois History. He also serves as Millikin’s Director of the School of Social Sciences. 

Charting a complex social history, “Wear Some Armor in Your Hair” brings together Chicago history, the 1960s, and urbanization. It centers not on the national leaders but on the grassroots activists of the time.

Dr. Brian Mullgardt
Dr. Brian Mullgardt

Mullgardt’s focus on the activists and community members of Lincoln Park, a neighborhood at the nexus of national trends, broadens the scope of understanding around a pivotal and monumental chapter of our history. 

The story of Lincoln Park, Chicago, is, in many ways, the story of 1960s activism writ small, and in other ways, challenges us to view national trends differently.

He recently appeared on NowDecatur’s “Byers & Co.” radio program to discuss his new book and his thoughts on those days in 1968 that changed American politics.  

 “At the time, Lincoln Park was under urban renewal, a program that some say is displacement and some say is renovation. For years, there were clashing visions of what the neighborhood should look like and how inclusive it should be,” Mullgardt said. “There was already some simmering tension there, and then here come the protests (around the Democratic National Convention),” Mullgardt said. “That's where ‘Wear Some Armor In Your Hair’ comes from. In the Chicago underground newspaper ‘Seed,’ writer Abe Peck warned people if you're coming to Chicago, as opposed to San Francisco’s ‘Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair,’ if you're coming to Chicago, he tells you flat out to wear some armor in your hair because it’s going to be that bad.”

Fifty-six years later, the Democratic National Convention returns to Chicago on August 19-22. Given the tense atmosphere on some college campuses nationwide, another memorable convention is possible. 

“I hope (City Hall) has learned a lesson because, in 1968, Mayor Richard Daly could have granted that permit and let them demonstrate in Lincoln Park. It's tucked away several miles north of the convention where they were having the Democratic convention. It's bounded by water with Lake Michigan on one side. They weren’t going to go anywhere,” Mullgardt said. “I would like to think tactics have changed on both sides, and I like to think, give people a permit and let them have their place. If people commit trouble, that's on them, and I don't think any officer wants a fight there.”

Join the author at two upcoming book release events: 

Bobzbay Books at 419 N. Main St. in Bloomington, Ill. on Saturday, May 18 at 10:00 a.m.

The Literary Book Bar at 122 N. Neil St. in Champaign, Ill. . on Thursday, May 30 at 7:00 p.m.