Chicago 1968

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 4-23-2015


Civil rights, social justice, interfaith work, Methodist, Protestant, Chicago Housing Authority, Commission on Human Relations, Chicago, Illinois, Sherman United Methodist Church, Evanston, Illinois, Progressive Community Church, Bronzville, Democratic National Convention, Democratic National Convention, Chicago, Illinois, Church work, Segregation, Civil rights demonstrations, Civil rights movements


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


Length: 84 minutes

Interview with Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Sr. by Matthew Kevin Robinson

Rev. Martin begins by describing his childhood in Mound Bayou, Mississippi, the oldest all-Black community in America, with his parents, grandparents, and nine siblings. He describes his strong religious upbringing and how he was called to ministry at the age of nine. He recounts being attacked and severely beaten by a group of “vigilante” white men for trying to register Black people to vote. He talks of his time at Philander Smith College, working for a wealthy retired counsel general, and the first churches he pastored for. He remembers his experiences trying to attending Payne Theological Seminary while working for the juvenile court in Dayton and how that led to his family moving to Chicago, eventually enrolling at Garrett Theological Seminary. He recalls the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and the chaos that ensued. He details his participation in the DNC protests, sheltering protesters in his church, and being charged for aiding and abetting fugitives as a result. He gives his perspective on the political scene in 1968, Black Power movement and religious activism, and the continuing struggle for equality and against racism in Chicago and America writ large.

Biography and Comments

He was active during the 1960s in civil rights and social justice issues, in 1968, he was a student pastor at the Sherman United Methodist Church in Evanston, IL. Rev. Martin attended Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary, graduating in 1971, was appointed interim chair of the Chicago Housing Authority by Mayor Washington, served as executive director of the Chicago Commission on Human Relations in the 1980s, and served as pastor of the Progressive Community Church, an independent Protestant church, in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago until his retirement 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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