Orginal Publication Date
Explorations in Sights and Sounds
Skokie is an Illinois suburb in which about 7,000 Jewish survivors of the European Holocaust live. In 1978, The National Socialist Party of American [America] (NSPA) (known until 1970 as the American Nazi Party) wanted to demonstrate in Skokie, to publically speak about the NSPA's ultimate purpose, which is to "create an all-white [non-Jewish] America in our lifetime," via legal methods "hopefully." The NSPA's immediate goal in marching in Skokie was "to dramatize the fact that there is no free speech for National Socialists ... a pressure move in order to force the system, the courts ... to give [the NSPA] back [their] right to free speech." Frank Colin, the NSP A leader and spokesperson, parallels NSP A public assembly with demonstrations by blacks in "the heart of dixie" during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Blacks were " Dramatiz[ing] their cause in an area where those concepts were most opposed," Colin says, just as his group was attempting to do. In other words, the intent of both groups was to demonstrate their constitutional right to free speech. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) picked up Colin's NSPA case when Skokie went to great lengths to keep the NSPA from their community. As news of the planned march spread, community leaders began to receive telephone threats; the Nazis' ultimate plan seemed already to be working.
Copyright, ©EES, The National Association for Ethnic Studies, 1990