J. Quinn Brisben

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John Quinn Brisben (September 6, 1934 – April 17, 2012) was an American teacher from Chicago, Illinois, who was the Socialist Party USA candidate for President of the United States in the 1992 U.S. presidential election.[1] His running mate was initially Bill Edwards, but after Edwards died during the campaign he was replaced by Barbara Garson. Brisben had previously been the Socialist Party USA's candidate for United States Vice President in 1976.


Brisben grew up in Enid, Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl era. He met his wife-to-be, Andrea at the University of Oklahoma (and was physically attacked there for being a member of the NAACP). They married and lived for some time in Madison, Wisconsin while he studied at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He taught briefly in Gurnee, Illinois before coming to Chicago, where he taught at Mason Upper Grade Center, Thomas Kelly High School and Harlan High.

Teaching career[edit]

Brisben worked as a high school history and social studies teacher in Chicago’s inner city for 30 years until his retirement in 1990. He served several terms as a representative in the American Federation of Teachers, Local 1, 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.


Extremely active in the civil rights movement in the 1960s, 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. He was active in the anti-Vietnam War movement, served as a boycott captain for the United Farm Workers, and was part of significant progressive movements of all kinds since the 1950s. In July 1990, he and Andrea helped smuggle 3,000 condoms donated by ACT-UP Chicago to the Moscow Lesbian and Gay Union. In recent years, Brisben had been primarily involved in the disability rights movement, with American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today (ADAPT). In fact, he began his 1992 run for president by serving three days in an Orlando jail for taking part in an ADAPT demonstration. He contributed to the 2003 anthology Queer Crips: Disabled Gay Men and Their Stories.


The writer Studs Terkel, a friend, interviewed Brisben for four of his books, including Race and Will the Circle Be Unbroken?. Brisben published poetry collections, and a novel, V for Victory Blues.


Brisben died at their apartment on April 17, 2012, at which time he and Andrea had been married 56 years, and had a daughter, Becky and a son, Michael.


External links[edit]

  • His poetry, prose, lectures and other writings can be found at QuinnBrisben.com.
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