The Oklahoman who coordinated the 1968 Democratic National Convention visited the Oklahoma History Center today to help unveil a political convention exhibit.
John Meek from Rocky in Washita County who coordinated one of the more infamous political conventions in American history says while much has been written, little is still known.
As Democrats meet in Denver to kick off their party convention, it was 40 years this week the Democrats met in Chicago and engaged in a turbulent assembly which crippled the party and nation. Meek said to him there were two conventions taking place.
“One was a political Woodstock played out in the parks and on the streets by thousands of protestors, and the other was the official convention held at the ancient International Amphitheatre in the stockyards area on the south side of Chicago,” Meek said.
1968 DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION
The 1968 Democratic convention is more known for what happened outside the arena than inside. With a backdrop of the Vietnam War, anti-war protestors clashed with local police in the streets. The blood and violence that ensued was broadcast live on television.
But Meek believes more attention should be paid to what happened inside the arena.
“It was well known the goal of the protest leaders was to stop the convention,” Meek said. “During Watergate there was much talk about a constitutional crisis. But compared to a national convention being held hostage by anti-war protestors and not being able to produce its candidates under party rules, the Watergate situation was no more than a flyspeck on the wall.”
Meek also shed insight about one of the rumors which spread throughout the ’68 convention – whether Pres. Lyndon Johnson still wanted to be nominated and run for another term.
“I was told the secret White House strategy was for the president to go to Moscow, a trip already planned, where he would cut a deal with Mr. Brezhnev, head of the Soviet Union, to end the war in Vietnam,” Meek said. “He then would come home to accept a draft to run again.”
The trip to Moscow was canceled after Soviet forces invaded Czechoslovakia the week before the convention.
Meek strongly believes had the protests not taken place in Chicago, Democratic presidential nominee Hubert Humphrey would have easily defeated Republican Richard Nixon. “Scott Cooper