Chicago 1968

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 4-24-2015


Civil rights, Civil rights demonstrations, Civil rights movements, Italian Americans, Chicago, Illinois, Catholic, Italy, Second Vatican Council, anti-war movement, Democratic National Convention, St. Gertrude Parish, Northside Catholic Academy, author, Democratic National Convention, Chicago, Illinois, Church work, Segregation


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


Length: 105 minutes

Interview with Father Dominic Grassi by Paul Brennan

Fr. Dominic Grassi begins his interview by detailing his childhood, growing up the youngest of five to Italian immigrant parents on the North side of Chicago, He credits his high school work with the children at Cabrini Greens for introducing him to the community service aspect of religious life and recalls the significant role the priests played in his early years. He describes daily life at the college seminary and the formation of his religious vocation amidst “almost a tsunami” of worlds events: the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, Second Vatican Council, and the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy. He recalls the activism he was involved with, marching as seminarians for civil rights, anti-war protests, Robert Kennedy’s campaign, community work at Cabrini Green and other parishes, and the continuation of that work in the following decades. He recounts the events of the Democratic National Convention and how he felt about the various major politicians of the day, Nixon, Daley, Johnson, the Kennedys, and others. Finally, he reflects on the lasting legacy of that era, how it formed and influenced his personal and religious convictions, and the parallels between 1968 and the present day.

Biography and Comments

In 1968, Father Dominic Grassi was a seminarian who took part in a rising movement in the church that spoke out and marched in protest against the Vietnam war and the era’s social injustice. He became an ordained priest in the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1973, served as pastor to Northside neighborhoods in Catholic churches, and retired as pastor of St. Gertrude Parish and as president of Northside Catholic Academy, Chicago in 2017. He is also author of several books of short stories he composed for his homilies, several articles, and in 2018, he published his first mystery book.

Please note: A portion of the audio recording is blank between 29:37 and 30:31. However, the transcript does reflect the lost recording between lines 298-306.

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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