Chicago 1968

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 4-25-2015


Civil rights, Episcopal Church, Gay activism, Homosexuality, Religious aspects, social aspects, Democratic National Convention, YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago, Richard J. Daley, Riots, Illinois


Cultural History | History | Political History | Political Science | Religion | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion | Social History | United States History


Length: 120 minutes

Interview with James A. "Jim" Aull by Jeremiah Morales

Mr. Aull begins by describing his childhood in a rural community outside of Philadelphia, living with his parents, sister, and paternal grandmother. He describes his experiences in school, including the required church attendance and his first social service activities through the boarding school programs serving poor communities. While at Princeton, he says he became involved with the YCMA and Christian student organizations, leading to his involvement in civil rights. He recalls his travels through the Soviet Union and Turkey. He recalls his time at the Chicago Theological Seminary earning his divinity degree where he first began acknowledging his sexual orientation. He explains that he didn’t come to peace with it until years later, after a marriage, divorce, and eventually beginning a relationship with a man and moving to Oak Park, where he co-founded the Oak Park Area Lesbian and Gay Association. He recalls how, after his partner passed away from AIDS, he got involved in AIDS counseling. He describes his outreach program for poor, inner city white communities, pushing back against the racism through dialogue. He details the events at the 1968 DNC, where he chaperoned a group of students to the event and through the protests. He talks about his life following those events, his time teaching and continued work with the YMCA, and his feelings about the legacy of those events today.

Biography and Comments

Jim Aull was active in social justice movements during the 1960s and committed to serving the needs of disadvantaged youth. Through weekly open house events in his home and through his work at a YMCA Coffee House on the Northwest side, Jim Aull also earned a MDv from Chicago Theological Seminary during this time, and, later, a MAT from Northwestern University. He taught high school in Woodstock, IL, served as director of development for Chicago Youth Centers, and was a founding member of the Oak Park Lesbian and Gay Association (OPALGA) and guided the establishment of the OPALGA youth services. He died in 2019.

The interviewer conducted this oral history as part of his/her coursework for the Spring 2015 class, Oral History: The Art of the Interview. This project was completed in collaboration with the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago and the College Archives & Special Collections department at Columbia College Chicago. Contact for more information.

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