Michael, at age twenty-one, traveled with a group of friends from St. Louis, Missouri to Chicago at the time of the Democratic National Convention. He was an editor at his college newspaper and felt "sheer curiosity" to witness what was going to happen. He made his way through Grant Park and ended up outside the Blackstone Hotel, arguing with an alternate convention delegate from New Jersey. Michael described the chaos of the crowd at that corner. While trying to protect a friend from injury, he was struck on the head during a surge of police activity. After receiving stitches, he watched some of the action from a distance in the Loop before heading home the next day.