San Jose Peace & Justice Center

artThe "Art of Protest" collection of silk screen posters from the 1960s and 1970s archived at the Peace & Justice Center is now available in an online digital archive at the MLK Library

The collection consists of twenty-six digitized silk screen posters documenting campus social protest movements in California during the 1960s and 1970s. Mostly the work of students at the University of California campuses in Berkeley and Santa Cruz, the posters depict a wide range of opposition to the Vietnam war, the military draft, racism, state repression, and environmental pollution. 

Background

Before the era of the personal computer and the Internet, social protest movements sought a creative low-cost medium for carrying their messages to the public. On college campuses, silk screen printing was done painstakingly by hand, often on the back of long fan-folding computer printouts. The effort proved worthwhile, for it provided an effective low-cost means of replicating striking color artwork in large format in hundreds of copies.

Many posters called for unity and peace. Others questioned the very basis of the Vietnam War, the draft, and political surveillance by the Nixon administration. Of note, one poster memorialized the four students who were killed by National Guard troops at Kent State University in Ohio on May 4, 1970.

 
 


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