James Alter was born and raised in Chicago. He described himself as the "political maven" of his family, because his birth family was not very political. His wife held many positions in the local and state Democratic Party and, together, they attended several national Democratic conventions. In 1968, he worked on Senator Eugene McCarthy's staff. Mr. Alter recalls attempting to stop the police from being violent with young people outside of the Conrad Hilton Hotel. He also mentions the anti-Vietnam War protest on April 27, 1968 when Chicago police acted violently toward participants. He saw that as a precursor to what occurred in August. He and his family remained politically active after the events of the 1968 Democratic National Convention.