Chicago 1968

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 5-1-2015


Civil rights, interfaith, Presbyterian Church USA, Harris Bank, Community Relations, Chicago, Illinois, YMCA, Macalaster College, Minnesota, social work, Interreligious Council of Urban Affairs, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Tet Offensive, Vietnam, Oak Park Community Organizing, 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: 74 minutes

Interview with Rev. H. Kris Ronnow by Sarah Moore

Rev. Ronnow describes his childhood in Saint Paul, Minnesota, raised in a working-class Presbyterian family, attending a desegregated high school and later, Macalester College. He explains his move to Chicago, earning a master in social work and attending seminary simultaneously, while also marrying and starting a family. He tells of how he decided to become a priest and what led to his involvement in community organizing, including the Interreligious Counsel of Urban Affairs. He recounts his activism work and marching with Martin Luther King, Jr. He recalls the DNC protests, witnessing the police aggressions and his attempts to quell the violence against the demonstrators. He talks about his work as the Organizing Community Relations Director for Oak Park, as the Vice President of Public Affairs at Harris Bank, and his work with the CSLA Congregations in Solidarity as part of a peace delegation in Columbia. He reflects on how, for him, the 1968 Democratic National Convention exposed the “depravity of man, and the lengths that people will go to have superiority over the other.” He reflects on the parallels between 1968 and the present day, wherein he doesn’t believe we’ve learned much since then, especially in regard to police harassment of Black communities.

Biography and Comments

Rev, H. Kris Ronnow has been active in civil rights protest work since the 1963 March on Washington. In 1967, became the Executive Director of the Interreligious Council of Urban Affairs Chicago, an organization designated the liaison agency with community organizations for five Chicago area religious bodies, part of the Church Federation of Greater Chicago. The latter organization was the precursor to the current Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago. Rev. Ronnow is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church USA. He also served as Community Relations Director, Oak Park, IL, and Vice President of Public Affairs at Harris Bank, Chicago.

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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