Reclaiming Insurgent Public Spaces

In October 2016, we organized an exhibit titled “Reclaiming Insurgent Public Spaces” and the public lecture “Transnational Solidarities: Then and Now” by Prexy Nesbitt at UIUC campus. Prexy Nesbitt is a long time scholar of African liberation movements and was an activist in residence at the UIUC Allen Hall during the 1965 anti-apartheid protests. The lectute was possible through the collaboration with FAA Arts X sponsored Activist Campus Walking Tour Project. The talk took place in the Atrium Gallery of Temple Buell Hall at UIUC.
The exhibition, covering student protests between the years 1965 and 2004, connected the movements for Civil Rights and Black Power with the movement against the Vietnam War, the campaign to end apartheid in South Africa, and the struggle to remove the Chief as the mascot for the University of Illinois. It featured images of pamphlets, protests, and clips from student publications like Free Prairie Press, The Geek, Walrus, People, and La Carta Informativa. The exhibit also included theatre games for participants and live performances.
Prexy Nesbitt’s talk was followed by the Activist Campus Walking Tour. Ken Salo led this tour which privileges the perspectives, histories, and landscapes of those who have been and still are systematically excluded from typical representations of UIUC’s history; students and workers struggling against racial, ethnic, nationalistic, economic, criminalized, and gendered exclusion from culturally appropriate and affordable public education. The tour group walked through the campus and collectively mapped sites of struggle in order to understand the UIUC landscape as a contested site and the product of struggles over and for the power to decide who benefits from the Illinois experience. The walking tour, as a place-based learning strategy, offered students an opportunity to connect local histories with global designs for public higher education.