Up Against the Wall - Berkeley Posters from the 1960s

Berkeley Historical Society, 1931 Center St., Berkeley, California (510) 848-0181
Open Thursdays through Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m., admission is free.
Exhibition 4/19 through 9/26, 2009, opening April 19,
3:00-5:00 p.m.

As 1950s America woke up from the deep chill of McCarthyism and the Cold War, a new genre of popular culture blossomed in the streets of Berkeley during the mid-1960s. Spurred by the success of local rock and counterculture posters, political posters were vibrant public documents that promoted a wide range of social issues. This exhibition documents Berkeley's unique role in the evolution of this medium, and includes examples of works on such diverse issues as gay liberation, people's health care, opposition to the Viet Nam war, support for political prisoners, demand for alternative educational models, and community control of police. The show covers the "long 1960s" (1964-1974) and explores the complex interaction between local activists, artists, publishers, and distributors that made this cultural explosion possible.

Curated by archivist and poster scholar Lincoln Cushing, this exhibition is drawn from a unique private Berkeley collection of over 25,000 political posters assembled by Free Speech Movement activist Michael Rossman.

Complete web catalog here, text describing exhibition content here.
Articles in Berkeley Daily Planet 4/16/2009 | Oakland Tribune 5/7/2009


"La nueva raza," for the Third World Liberation Front (U.C. Berkeley), by Malaquias Montoya, 1969.

"April 6 : [Loni] Hancock & [Rick] Brown for [Berkeley] City Council," original graphic by Wayne "Wally" Zampa, 1971.

"Our strength is in our health," for the Berkeley Women's Health Collective, artist unknown, circa 1974.

Also see H.K. Yuen Social Movement Archive - hear sample audiofiles, below
Jim Nabors
Speech to students at U.C. by a rank-and-file member of the Huey P. Newton Defense Committee, November 1967

"The first thing I want to say is to the white people here, the white people who took it upon themselves to assume the responsibility of saying 'Hell no, I won't go.' ...you understand one thing, the system is anti-you, baby. It's anti-you because you acting like a nigger. You can't act like a nigger in white America and get away with it."
Bettina Aptheker
Sproul Plaza rally recorded live June 1967

"It's very interesting going to jail being six months pregnant. I think it's going to be the first kid that ever served his sentence before he sat in."


Cesar Chavez
Sproul Plaza rally recorded live May 1968

"Why are the workers and why are the poor in the rural areas so committed to Kennedy? [When] we were taking a beating... we called on people in Washington...asking them to come to Delano. Senator Kennedy was one of those that came. And he held a meeting of the Subcommittee on Migratory Labor... a very effective thing."


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