Setting the Stage, Part 2

In the middle 1970's, Marquette Park, on the south side of Chicago, was almost entirely white - primarily the children and grandchildren of Eastern European immigrants. People of color, especially African Americans, were not wanted, though some tried to move into the area.  Racial tensions grew hot. In July, 1976, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Coalition, a group of African Americans, mounted a protest march into Marquette Park. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE!

As part of our mission to use theater to fight bigotry and hate, especially anti-Semitism, Grippo Stage Company is proud to share our new blog series: Neo Nazi March vs. Skokie.

In the weeks leading up to the highly anticipated revival of James Sherman's THE GOD OF ISAAC, directed by Dennis Začek, Charles Grippo and guest authors will be shedding additional light on the circumstances surrounding the would-be event at the heart of this play.

​We hope you enjoy reading this content and invite you to continue the conversation with us on our Facebook page.

Initial Skokie Reaction

When Skokie Mayor Albert Smith and village counsel Harvey Schwartz learned that Frank Collin and his National Socialist Party of America intended to stage a demonstration in front of the village hall on May 1, they initially decided to simply let Collin go ahead. Schwartz advised Smith and the city council that Collin would likely be within his First Amendment rights to march. There was little the city could do about it. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE!

Setting the Stage, Part I

In March, 1977, the village of Skokie, Illinois, was a quiet suburb of Chicago. Like most middle-class communities, it had restaurants, shops, a public library, a movie theater, schools, and houses of worship. Its population of 70,000 was roughly divided between Catholics and Jews. Of its 40,000 or so Jewish residents, between 5,000 to 7,000 were Holocaust survivors, and many others had lost relatives and friends to the Nazis.  CLICK HERE TO READ MORE!

What Happened on March 20, 1977

While the ACLU was suing the Chicago Park District, alleging their requirements of a bond and public liability insurance unconstitutionally abridged Frank Collin’s rights to freedom of speech and assembly, Collin decided to try a two-pronged approach to generating the media event he craved.  In September, 1976, Collin designed a leaflet he intended to be as offensive as possible. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE!

Community Reaction

At a meeting of rabbis and other Jewish community leaders, Skokie Mayor Albert Smith proposed that the city adopt the Jewish Anti-Defense League’s policy of quarantining the NSPA marchers — i.e. allow the march but otherwise ignore it. The attendees unanimously agreed this was the best course of action. But the Jewish population themselves fiercely opposed such a plan. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE!

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