July 19th marked the most recent performance in the Port Huron Project, brainchild of Brown professor Mark Tribe. At the library of UC San Diego, an actor performed a famous antiwar speech by Chicano labor leader César Chávez (right):
On May 2, 1971, about 200 uniformed police surrounded the perimeter of Exposition Park while 30-odd plainclothes officers circulated through the crowd as farm labor leader César Chávez delivered a brief but impassioned speech decrying the Vietnam War at a rally sponsored by the People’s Coalition for Peace and Justice.
This marks the fourth manifestation of the Port Huron Project which has recreated protest speeches from the turbulent sixties across the country. More after the jump.
Chávez’s 1971 speech was part of a week of nationwide antiwar activities; the 2008 event in Los Angeles, titled “We Are Also Responsible,” is the fourth installment of the Port Huron Project, Tribe’s series of reenactments of Vietnam-era speeches on the sites of the original addresses.
The series — which since 2006 has staged a 1968 Coretta Scott King speech in New York City’s Central Park, a 1971 address by author and activist Howard Zinn in Boston, and a speech given by Paul Potter, former president of Students for a Democratic Society at the 1965 March on Washington — takes its name from the Port Huron Statement, the manifesto of the Students for a Democratic Society, written at an early 1960s group meeting in Port Huron, Mich. . . .
“As an art project, it does tread the line in an interesting and ambiguous way between performance art and political protest,” Tribe said. “It’s an ancient debate in a way, the relationship between art and politics, and this is kind of my way as an artist to play a part in the political transformations that we are witnessing in America right now.”
Tribe is also of note for being a friend to the new Students for a Democratic Society, helping our chapter at Brown come up with a cool name for the teams in our buddy system–which, thanks to Tribe, we call pods.