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Podcast: Erik Gellman’s new book on Art Shay and Chicago Protest History

On this month’s episode of the Deerfield Public Library Podcast, we are very happy to present a conversation with Erik Gellman, author of Troublemakers: Chicago Freedom Struggles through the Lens of Art Shay, a book that fuses photography and history to explore many “movements and moments” in the struggle for a more free and democratic society in Chicago (and Deerfield), from the post-war years through 1970. 

Troublemakers is a kaleidoscopic history that upends our received narratives, offering new insights into storied movements like Dr. King’s Chicago activism, the protests at the 1968 Democratic convention, or Fred Hampton and the Chicago Black Panthers. Gellman also makes surprising connections, using Art Shay’s unique photographs–which often caught things other photographers missed–to connect histories as seemingly disparate as the rise of teenagers, racialized policing, the peace movement, and the political work of gangs. 

It is a rare event when a book comes out that has so many connections to our community in Deerfield and the work we do at the library. Not only does the book use the photographs of acclaimed photographer, longtime Deerfield resident (and past DPL podcast guest) Art Shay (1922 – 2018), but it also contains a whole chapter on the fight over integrated housing in Deerfield. That history explored in our 2019 series The Fight to Integrate Deerfield: 60 Year Reflection, is given a fascinating new historical analysis. Our conversation, recorded live with a virtual audience last week, covers all of this and more, including reflections on our memories of Art Shay himself.

You can check out Troublemakers: Chicago Freedom Struggles Through the Lens of Art Shay from the library. Or, the book is available for purchase from the publisher University of Chicago Press (listen to our episode for details on a 30% discount code!). You can also see Art Shay photographs on display at the Deerfield Public Library, as part of our FID exhibits, including the photograph on the cover of Erik’s book!

We hope you enjoy our 42nd episode with Erik Gellman. Each month we release an episode featuring a conversation with a notable guest, including authors, artists, and leaders from Deerfield, Chicagoland, and the whole world. Learn more about the podcast on our podcast page.

You can listen to all of our episodes in the player below or on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play, or anywhere else you listen to podcasts. We welcome your comments and feedback—please send to

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