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July 27, 2019 @ 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm CDT

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Call for orators, slam poets, activists, dreamers, doers!

Exercise your First Amendment rights at historic Washington Square.

At a time when political polarization is intensified by the extremes of digital discourse, the Bughouse Square Debates are a public forum where people can encounter new ideas and share their own in person! Ground Rules
  • Speeches under 3 minutes.
  • Participants under 25 years old.
  • Solo, pair, team, whatever. Bring it.
  • Your words or someone else’s with attribution.
  • Competitive, if that moves you.
  • Hate has no home here. Racist, sexist, homophobic, gender-biased, ableist, or otherwise derogatory speech that is degrading to any specific group of people will not be tolerated.

Event Details

Join the Newberry for Chicago’s favorite free speech event! Bring your loudest heckling voice, mount the open soapbox, and exercise your First Amendment rights. Take it to the park this summer! And don’t miss the Newberry Book Fair before and/or after the Debates!

Learn more about the history of Bughouse Square.

Supported by a grant from the Chicago Free for All Fund at the Chicago Community Trust.

Your generosity is vital in keeping the library’s programs, exhibitions, and reading rooms free and accessible to everyone. Make a donation today.

Check out highlights from last year's event!

Get involved!

  • If you're rep'ing a school or organization, let us know who.
  • Some school-issued email accounts won't allow us to email you. If that's the case, please be sure to use one we can.
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July 27, 2019
12:00 pm - 4:00 pm
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Washington Square Park (aka Bughouse Square)
901 North Clark
Chicago, IL 60610
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