The exhibition, “Know Justice, Know Peace: 100 Years of Activism in the Archives,” has been extended through May 19, 2023, on the first and fifth floors of the University Library. The exhibition is focused on activism and counterculture as represented in the archival collections of the Gerth Archives. In addition to hundreds of items from the archives on activist movements, it also features the political and counterculture photographs (1966-1970) of Jim Coke, Long Beach resident and CSUDH alum. Coke’s photographs feature members of the Black Panthers including Bobby Seale and Kathleen Cleaver, the Human Be-In, Allen Ginsberg in Los Angeles, and Jim Morrison and the Doors performing at an outdoor festival in the Valley in 1970. Coke has been displaying his counterculture photographs throughout the region in recent years.
“With CSUDH’s history or activism arising out the Watts Rebellion, the purpose of this exhibition is to document the persistent focus Americans have on advancing activism when they identify injustices,” said Archives Director, Greg Williams. “With Jim Coke’s photographs and the documents from recently acquired archival collections, the exhibition offers an alternative take on U.S. and California history. Huge collections such as the LA Free Press Collection and the Holt Labor Library bring a vast amount of alternative information to the Archives’ resources.”
Exhibition materials have been selected from several recent acquisitions at the Gerth Archives and Special Collections. These include the LA Free Press Archives, the Holt Labor Library Collection, and the John Weatherwax Collection. Additionally, there are materials from the Feminist Resources Collection, various Chicano history collections, the Civil Rights Collection, and other collections focused on Filipino Americans, Japanese Americans, and LGBTQIA+ Americans. Topics include abortion, the Civil Rights movement from the 1940s-1970s, the fight in the 1970s and 1980s for redress for Japanese American incarceration during World War II, Filipino American support for democracy in the Philippines, the fight for appropriate health care for LGBTQIA+ Americans during the AIDS Crisis, the fight against red scare tactics during the McCarthy era in the 1950s including the fight to spare Sacco and Vanzetti (1920s) as well as Julian and Ethel Rosenberg (1950s) from death sentences. Additional materials include letters from Jerry Rubin and Timothy Leary during the 1960s, materials on the United Farm Workers, the Chicano Moratorium, and the 1967 High Walk-out in East LA. There are also several right-wing causes illustrated including anti-New Deal documents, anti-Equal Rights Amendments and materials from the John Birch Society. The exhibition also contains a good deal of political posters gathered over the last decade from the Holt Labor Library Collection and the Kaye Briegel Chicano Publications and Poster Collection.
Individual items of note include a flyer from the Los Angeles Communist Party encouraging the Hollywood Stars and Los Angeles Angels to integrate their minor league baseball teams in 1948; a set of documents from Bayard Rustin calling for the integration of the U.S. Armed forces; a flyer calling for the federal government to return the passport of Paul Robeson to the singer; the second issue of the Montgomery Improvement Association Newsletter in the middle of the bus boycott led by Martin Luther King; and a draft letter of support for the dropping of false charges against Robert F. Williams from author James Baldwin.
Additional exhibition materials are located in the Gerth Archives Reading Room on the 5th Floor of the Library, Room 5039. These include topics such as the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, the National Organization for an American Revolution, Native American Activism, the Iraq War, San Francisco State Strike in 1968, tradeswomen collections, and the pre-World War II America First Movement.
In the years during the pandemic, the Gerth Archives collections relating to activism and social change have grown exponentially. The collection growth is the result of the conviction that archival collections should reflect social and community movements that reflect the values and the diverse populations of those communities. Such collections also veer away from mainstream thought and give students the opportunity to analyze alternative views. This growth has led to the acquisition of the Holt Labor Library Collection, the LA Free Press/Art Kunkin Collection, the LGBTQ Publications Collections, the Black Panther Newspaper Collection, the John Weatherwax Collection, the Chicano Publications Collection, the Ligon Aquarian Bookstore Collection, the CSU Japanese American Digitization Project, the Filipino American Digital Archive, and many other activist collections.
The exhibition is in the Library Arts Center, University Library Room 1940. Monday-Friday 10-4. Call 310-243-3895 for more information. The room also serves as the Faculty Development Center and is located next to the large globe sculpture outside the library. Guide tours are available for classes and other groups. Students and the public are welcome to tour the exhibition on their own. The exhibition will remain open through May 19, 2023.
Curators for this exhibition include Jennifer Hill, Tom Philo and Greg Williams. The Gerth Archives has over 500 collections of archival materials and 85,000 digital objects on a variety of subjects related to activism local history and CSUDH and CSU history.