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450 S Michigan Ave, AUD 1851
Chicago IL 60605
United States


Illinois Labor History Society

Bug House Square Debates

ILHS Upcoming Events

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Bug House Square Debates

  • Washington Square Park 901 North Clark Street Chicago, IL, 60610 United States (map)

Bring your loudest heckling voice, mount the soapbox, and exercise your First Amendment rights! Join the Newberry for Chicago’s favorite free speech event, and take it to the park this summer! 

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! 

You can submit your own Soapbox Speech Proposals by June 15 to compete for the Dill Pickle Award! Submissions are accepted through this online form:

In the friendly free-speech competition, orators mount soapboxes and take about 10 minutes each to have their say about First Amendment issues, civil liberties, #MeToo, matters of civic engagement, pop culture – or any other burning concern.

Judges award the Dill Pickle Award to the champion soapboxer. The Pickle refers to the Dill Pickle Club, a bohemian gathering place once located around the corner from Bughouse Square. 


Noon: Music by Environmental Encroachment

1 pm: Welcome and Introduction to Bughouse Square, Rick Kogan, Master of Ceremonies

1:10 pm: Presentation of the 2018 John Peter Altgeld Freedom of Speech Award to Robert J. Zimmer, on behalf of the University of Chicago

1:25 pm: Performance by Genesis Academy Summer Institute Students 

1:35 pm: Main Debate

2:30 pm: Soapbox Speeches and Open Soapbox

3:30 pm: Performance Interlude while the Soapbox Judges make their decision

3:45 pm: Dill Pickle Awarded to the Soapbox Champion