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Illinois’ Anti-Establishment Soundscapes: Troubled Waters in 1970

2017 American Music Month Exhibit

During the late 1960s, university campuses across America experienced significant political and social turmoil. For the University of Illinois, the spring of 1970 was a time of tremendous political unrest among students and faculty due to America’s involvement in the Vietnam war, the US Department of Defense’s construction of the Illiac IV supercomputer on campus, the Champaign-Urbana police force’s killing of an unarmed African American student on the Illinois campus and the Ohio National Guard’s shooting of four students on the campus of Kent State University.

While Illinois’ students and many of its faculty came together at this time to protest the Federal government’s growing political oppression and imperialism, the campus’ activists and protestors used varying music genres to convey their message across campus.  Music groups like the Campus Folksong Club, the Walden String Quartet, Medicare 7, 8, or 9, and REO Speedwagon as well as many faculty members from the University’s School of Music, frequently lent their talents to support political and social protests.  This exhibit of photographs, news clippings, advertisements, protest broadsides, concert programs, graphic illustrations and audio recordings highlight the diverse intersections of music, art and protest on the Illinois campus during the 1970 school year.

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