J. Quinn Brisben

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J. Quinn Brisben
J. Quinn Brisben in 1992.jpg
Brisben in 1992
Personal details
Born(1934-09-06)September 6, 1934
Enid, Oklahoma, U.S.
DiedApril 17, 2012(2012-04-17) (aged 77)
Chicago, Illinois
Political party Socialist
ChildrenMichael, Becky
Residence Chicago, Illinois
Alma mater University of Oklahoma
University of Wisconsin-Madison

John Quinn Brisben (September 6, 1934 – April 17, 2012) was an American teacher, author, and political activist from Chicago, Illinois. Brisben was on the Socialist Party USA's presidential ticket twice. He ran as a candidate for president of the United States in the 1992 presidential election. [1] Previously, Brisben had been the Socialist Party USA's candidate for vice president in 1976 as [2] the running mate of Frank P. Zeidler. [3]


John Quinn Brisben was born September 6, 1934 to Olive and John Brisben of Enid, Oklahoma. [4] He grew up during the Dust Bowl era with his brother, Joseph, [4] matriculating through Enid Public Schools and graduating Enid High School in 1952. [5] He also studied at Phillips University. [4] He met Andrea Rosaaen, a needlepoint artist, [6] while studying at the University of Oklahoma. [1] He graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences in 1955, [2] [7] and she from the College of Fine Arts in 1954. [6] [8] They married in 1955 and then lived for some time in Madison, Wisconsin while he studied for his graduate degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. [2]

Teaching career

J. Quinn Brisben taught history and social studies for 32 years [9] at the high school and middle school level, [4] including briefly in Gurnee, Illinois [1] before relocating to Chicago, where he taught at Mason Upper Grade Center, Thomas Kelly High School and Harlan High [1] until his retirement in 1990. [2] He served several terms as a representative [2] in the American Federation of Teachers, Local 1, [10] and frequently served on strike committees. He received several teaching awards, including being named Teacher of the Year by Teachers for Integrated Schools in 1964. [2]


J. Quinn Brisben was active as an ally in many social movements during his lifetime, beginning with the Civil Rights Movement. [10] Brisben took part in the Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1964—where he was briefly jailed—and in several Southern Christian Leadership Conference-sponsored activities in Alabama from 1965 to 1967. As a student at the University of Oklahoma in the 1950s, Brisben was once physically attacked [1] for being the first white member [2] of the local NAACP chapter. He was active in the anti-Vietnam War movement and served as a boycott captain for the United Farm Workers. In July 1990, he and Andrea helped smuggle 3,000 condoms [2] donated by ACT-UP Chicago to the Moscow Lesbian and Gay Union. Around the time of his run for president in 1992, Brisben had been primarily involved in the disability rights movement, with American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today (ADAPT), [2] even serving three days in an Orlando jail for taking part in an ADAPT demonstration. [2] He was arrested 22 times as a political activist. [4]

Socialist Party USA

Brisben had been a member of the Socialist party since 1959. [10] He attempted to run for mayor of Chicago in 1975 via a write-in campaign after failing gain enough signatures to be placed on the ballot. [11]

1976 Vice Presidential campaign

Brisben was Frank P. Zeidler’s vice presidential running mate in 1976 for the Socialist Party USA, receiving 6,038 votes. [3] [12] That election was the first time the Socialist Party had run a presidential candidate since the 1956. [13]

1992 Presidential campaign

Brisben and his running mate Bill Edwards were nominated at the 1991 Socialist Party USA convention. However, Edwards died [3]during the campaign and writer Barbara Garson [3] was selected to replace him on the ballot. [14] In March 1992, Brisben participated in a presidential debate with other minor party and independent presidential candidates, which was aired on C-SPAN. [15] The Brisben−Garson ticket appeared on the ballots of Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia; [3] ultimately, they received 3,071 votes. [3]


Brisben published three poetry collections, and a novel, V for Victory Blues. He also contributed interviews to four books written by Studs Terkel, and to the 2003 anthology Queer Crips he contributed a story entitled "A Wedding Celebration" about the gay couple Erik von Schmetterling and Jimmy Schrode who were his fellow activists with ADAPT. [16] He also wrote many articles for the Monthly Review and other journals.


The writer Studs Terkel, a friend, interviewed Brisben in four of his books:

  • The Great Divide: Second Thoughts on the American Dream (1988) ISBN  0-394-57053-7
  • Race: What Blacks and Whites Think and Feel About the American Obsession (1992). ISBN  978-1-56584-000-3
  • Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Reflections on Death, Rebirth and Hunger for a Faith (2001) ISBN  0-641-75937-1
  • Hope Dies Last: Keeping the Faith in Difficult Times (2003) ISBN  1-56584-837-3

Poetry collections

  • The Significance of the Frontier: Selected Poems 1966-2002. Chicago: Scars Publications. 2002. ISBN  9781891470578.
  • I Saw This: New and Old Poems. Chicago: Scars Publications. 2006. ISBN  9781891470790.
  • Late Self Portraits. Becky Davis Design. 2008. ISBN  9780615237121.

Novels and stories

Journal articles

  • Brisben, J.Q. (1997). "Surviving in Tough Country." Monthly Review. 49. 59. 10.14452/MR-049-07-1997-11_9.
  • Brisben, J.Q. (1999). "Mass Movements Need Mass History." Monthly Review. 50. 55. 10.14452/MR-050-08-1999-01_8.
  • Brisben, J.Q. (1998). "The Cicerone at Antietam." Michigan Quarterly Review. 37. 236-237.
  • Brisben, J. Quinn. "Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963-65." Monthly Review, Jan. 1999, p. 55+. Gale Document Number: GALE|A53972893
  • Brisben, J. Quinn. "The Children." Monthly Review, Jan. 1999, p. 55+. Gale Document Number: GALE|A53972894
  • J. Quinn Brisben (1965) A HISTORY OF RACISM, Equity & Excellence in Education, 3:1, 36-37, DOI: 10.1080/0020486650030108
  • Brisben, J. Quinn. "No Pity: People with Disabilities Forging a New Civil Rights Movement." Monthly Review, Nov. 1993, p. 61+. Gale Document Number: GALE|A14541332
  • Brisben, J. Quinn. "Red Dirt: Growing Up Okie." Monthly Review, Dec. 1997, p. 59+. Gale Document Number: GALE|A20348067
  • Brisben, J. Quinn. "ADAPT sets a good example." Monthly Review, Feb. 1992, p. 35+. Gale Document Number: GALE|A11832060
  • Brisben, J. Quinn. "Witness Against the Beast: William Blake and the Moral Law." Monthly Review, Sept. 1994, p. 59+. Gale Document Number: GALE|A15823658
  • Brisben, J. Quinn. "A Wedding Celebration" Bent: A Journal of Crip/Gay Voices. Nov. 2001.


J. Quinn Brisben died at his apartment in Chicago, Illinois on April 17, 2012. [4] Andrea was born in 1932, [17] and they were married in 1955, [9] a union that lasted 56 years. They had a daughter named Becky and a son named Michael. [1] Andrea founded Changing Woman Designs, a needlepoint pattern company, in 1991 [6] which she ran until her death on August 5, 2016. [17]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Harlan High teacher ran for president as a Socialist". Suntimes.com. Retrieved 2012-06-11.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "J. Quinn Brisben". Socialist Party USA. Archived from the original on 2005-09-01. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Ross, Jack (2015-04-15). The Socialist Party of America: A Complete History. University of Nebraska Press. p. 657. ISBN  9781612344911. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Former candidate for president and Enid native dies". Enid News & Eagle. 5 May 2012. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  5. ^ Enid Public School Foundation (2016). Enid High School Alumni Directory 2016. PCI. p. B33.
  6. ^ a b c "2003 In Review" (PDF). OU Arts: 21. 2003. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  7. ^ The University of Oklahoma (2018). The University of Oklahoma Alumni Directory 2017-2018. PCI. p. 1495.
  8. ^ The University of Oklahoma (2018). The University of Oklahoma Alumni Directory 2017-2018. PCI. p. 1738.
  9. ^ a b Brisben, J. Quinn, The Significance of the Frontier, pg. 129.
  10. ^ a b c S, John. "Obituary for J. Quinn Brisben". Solidarity.us. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  11. ^ Rulli, Joseph Anthony (2019). Chicago Socialism: The People's History. Arcadia Publishing. p. 117. ISBN  9781467141260. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  12. ^ Horan, Chris (November 2, 2016). "Our Back Pages: When a presidential candidate spent election night in Milwaukee". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  13. ^ Moore, John (2013). Elections A-Z. Routledge. p. 409. ISBN  9781135938703. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  14. ^ Teltsch, Kathleen (28 August 1992). "Chronicle" (August 28, 1992, Section B, Page 2). The New York Times. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  15. ^ "Independent Presidential Candidates Debate". C-SPAN. March 1, 1992. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  16. ^ "A Wedding Celebration" Queer Crips pgs 107-109
  17. ^ a b "Changing Woman Designs". Archived from the original on 2018-08-20. Retrieved 22 October 2019.

Party political offices
Preceded by
Willa Kenoyer
Socialist Party Presidential candidate
1992 (lost)
Succeeded by
Mary Cal Hollis
Preceded by
Socialist Party Vice Presidential candidate
1976 (lost)
Succeeded by
Diane Drufenbrock