The book tells the story of a singular evening in 1968, during which a national television audience witnessed the crossing of some long and disparate paths. The book adopts the conceit of a timeline to tell stories of Champaign as a geological event, as a destination for wanderers more and less free to travel, and as the subject of a television broadcast.
Over the first half of the book, we see a slow convergence of glaciers, railroads, the sons and daughters of freed slaves, European immigrants, and radio waves. The second half of the book then relates the results of these convergences, as they transpired during a taping of Public Broadcasting Laboratory, an early news-magazine show that created weekly episodes on current events.
Present and on camera for this event were two persons whose work later left long wakes, but who probably never met again – John Lee Johnson and Heinz von Foerster. This book explores that meeting as a way of inviting reflection on the relationship of local politics to global stories of violence and injustice, and on the small ways in which strangers can even accidentally act in unison for change.
In connection with this comic, Elizabeth Simpson also invited me to contribute a bus poster for display on Champaign’s public transit system.