Call for orators, slam poets, activists, dreamers, doers!
Exercise your First Amendment rights at historical 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!
- 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.
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!
Full Event Schedule
|12pm||Live music from Environmental Encroachment|
|1pm||Welcome Rick Kogan, Master of Ceremonies|
|1:10pm||Presentation of the 2018 John Peter Altgeld Freedom of Speech Award to the University of Chicago on behalf of President Robert Zimmer|
|1:25pm||Performance by Genesis Academy Summer Institute Students|
|2:30pm||Soapbox Speeches, including the Youth Soapbox organized by students from GCE Lab School with special guest emcee, CBS Chicago’s Vince Gerasole|
|3:30pm||Performance Interlude while the Soapbox Judges make their decision|
|3:45pm||Dill Pickle Awards to the Soapbox Champion and The Windy City Pickle Speaker of Truth Youth Bughouse Award|
Youth Soapbox Awards
Windy City Pickle Speaker of Truth Youth Bughouse Award
As a rule, grownups cannot be trusted. They have left us a ginormous mess. However, we honor some exceptional old-people doing a rock-solid job righting wrongs, slaying dragons, and empowering youth voice (since we’re the ones who are going to need to clean it all up).
This year’s Speaker of Truth Awards will be presented to:
Lisa Madigan, Illinois Attorney General
Edie Canter, Executive Director of the Chicago Debate Commission
Our esteemed panel of Bughouse judges will determine award winners in the following categories:
Windy City Dill Award
The highest honor. This award goes to the most memorable speech of the day.
Given to the most passionate speaker.
Given to the speaker who draws attention to an under-recognized issue.
Green Bean Award
Given to the youngest speaker.
Beer Briny Award
All talk is exhausting. Coveted spectator award for the person or group adding the most color and charm to our Bughouse. Humor, costume, theatrical appeal, sparkle and general good vibes are always a plus.
Future Leaders Awards
Given its tireless work to protect the most vulnerable among us, student organizers have chosen the ACLU of Illinois’ Next Generation Society to receive the Protector of Everything We Hold Dear Award. On behalf of ACLU’s Next Generation Society, Peter Hanna will be honoring all Youth Bughouse participants with the Future Leaders Award.
- About two dozen local organizations and causes will set up information tables in the park, with volunteers to answer your questions. Would your organization like to be represented? Write to [email protected] or call 312-255-3610.
Learn more about the history of Bughouse Square.
Supported by a grant from the Chicago Free for All Fund at the Chicago Community Trust.
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Special Thanks To: