Freeing John Sinclair: The Day Legends Came To Town

The John Sinclair Freedom Rally, held in Crisler Arena on December 10, 1971, is one of the most memorable concerts in Ann Arbor history and one of the most significant in the history of Rock and Roll, due in large part to John Lennon's decision to appear in support of radical White Panther leader John Sinclair, who was currently serving 8 1/2 to 10 years in prison for the possession of two marijuana cigarettes.

But also on the bill that night were Motown's Steve Wonder, folksinger Phil Ochs, and jazz legend Archie Schepp, plus Ann Arbor's own Bob Seger, Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, Teegarden & Van Winkle and The Up. Speakers included Bobby Seale, Allen Ginsberg, and Rennie Davis.

On the 40th anniversary of the Rally, AADL is launching this site tracing the history behind the Rally, in particular the story of the White Panther and Rainbow People's Parties in Ann Arbor, through a series of interviews; essays; photographs; historical audio files; and thousands of articles from both the Ann Arbor News and the Ann Arbor Sun, the underground newspaper published by the White Panther Party and Rainbow People's Party from 1967-1976.

Highlights of the site include the phone conversation between John and Leni Sinclair and John Lennon and Yoko Ono after Sinclair's release from prison, and our interview with the Honorable Damon J. Keith, Senior Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, about his famous "Keith Decision" in the CIA Conspiracy case. We also interview former White Panther leaders John Sinclair, Leni Sinclair, Pun Plamondon and legendary poster artist Gary Grimshaw.

The essays cover such topics as the hidden history of Ann Arbor's countercultural past and the story behind the Rally. John Sinclair writes about his years in Ann Arbor; Leni Sinclair describes the evolution of the Hill Street commune; and radical lawyer Hugh "Buck" Davis details the Constitutional significance of the CIA Conspiracy case.

But this is just the start. More interviews, historical audio, and browsing options are coming soon!


Freeing John Sinclair is a product of the Ann Arbor District Library in collaboration with the Bentley Historical Library, Cousins Vinyl, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

 

Rainbow People's Party Reorganizational Meeting, January 3, 1972

Media Player

January 3, 1972

Members of the Rainbow People's Party discuss plans for future expansion and organization and plan their future meetings, January 3, 1972

Repository Info: 
Bentley Historical Library, John & Leni Sinclair Papers
Length: 
01:04:59
 

Rainbow People's Party Reorganizational Meeting, December 17, 1971

Media Player

December 17, 1971

Members of the Rainbow People's Party discuss perceptions of the Party, the Party's future, and its relationships in the community, December 17, 1971

Repository Info: 
Bentley Historical Library, John & Leni Sinclair Papers
Length: 
01:56:29
 

White Panther Central Committee, April 8, 1970

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April 8, 1970

Downloads:

File NameSizeType
fjs_19700408_white_panther_central_committee.mp36.8 MBAudio

Members of the White Panther Central Committee discuss: international issues, racial issues in connection to Bobby Seale, the development of the White Panther Party, terrorism, the necessity of theory in counterculture, Israel, and the development of rock and roll; April 8, 1970

Repository Info: 
Bentley Historical Library, John & Leni Sinclair Papers
Length: 
00:44:20
 

White Panther Central Committee, June 1969

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June, 1969

Downloads:

File NameSizeType
fjs_196906_white_panther_central_committee.mp36.8 MBAudio

Members of the White Panther Central Committee discuss the media, the police, and the use of violence in revolutionary culture; June 1969

Repository Info: 
Bentley Historical Library, John & Leni Sinclair Papers
Length: 
00:46:55
 

Ann Arbor City Council / Genie Plamondon, February 26, 1973

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February 26, 1973

Downloads:

File NameSizeType
fjs_19730226_ann_arbor_city_council_genie_plamondon.mp36.8 MBAudio

City Council meeting discussion about the necessity of a community center and the Tribal Council's desire to use buildings set to be demolished; recording of Mitch Ryder endorsing upcoming voter registration marathon; Gene Plamondon discusses charges against Pun Plamondon; discussion of cancellation of voter registration marathon; statement about the Ann Arbor Sun's funding and debt; discussion of the case against Pun Plamondon; February 26, 1973

Repository Info: 
Bentley Historical Library, John & Leni Sinclair Papers (Unit III, no. 18)
Length: 
00:57:30
 

David Sinclair press conference; Commander Cody endorsement; People's Ballroom statement; February 12-14, 1973

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February 12, 1973

Downloads:

File NameSizeType
fjs_19730212_david_sinclair_press_conference.mp36.8 MBAudio

Press conference with David Sinclair about election and Human Rights Party; news clip about developments in Vietnam; Commander Cody's endorsement of David Sinclair; discussion of funds for People's Ballroom repairs; February 12-14, 1973

Repository Info: 
Bentley Historical Library, John & Leni Sinclair Papers (Unit III, no. 17)
Length: 
00:55:23
 

Free City Council meetings, police harassment, and South University riot / Pun Plamondon; July 1969

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July, 1969

Free City Council meetings, police harassment, and South University riot / Pun Plamondon; July 1969

Repository Info: 
Bentley Historical Library, John & Leni Sinclair Papers
Length: 
00:14:31
 

Prison Experience: John Sinclair, Syracuse University, February 23, 1972

Media Player

February 23, 1972

John Sinclair speaks at Syracuse University about his experience in prison, American counterculture, and his vision for a free society; February 23, 1972

Repository Info: 
Bentley Historical Library, John & Leni Sinclair Papers (Unit III, no. 14)
Length: 
00:59:49
 

Human Rights Party Candidates; Ann Arbor City Council / David Sinclair, Gene Plamondon; January 28 & February 4, 1973

Media Player

January 28, 1973

Downloads:

File NameSizeType
fjs_19730209_david_sinclair_speech_at_east_quad.mp36.8 MBAudio

Human Rights Party candidate speeches and platforms; Ann Arbor City Council meeting, including proposals and questions from audience members; interview about lettuce boycott, January 28 & February 4, 1973

Repository Info: 
Bentley Historical Library, John & Leni Sinclair Papers (Unit III, no. 15)
Length: 
01:02:05
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