Loving the Art of the Political Poster at the Oakland Museum

Because sometimes, words don't do an issue justice.

By Hatty Lee Mar 07, 2011

Last October, the Oakland Museum of California was gifted the "All Of Us Or None" poster collection of 23,500 political posters collected by Michael Rossman, a free speech activist from Berkeley. The posters document almost every political movement in the U.S. between the 1960s and the 1990s, particularly the time between 1965 and 1985 in the Bay Area. The collection covers a wide-range of topics including the Black Panther Party, police brutality, and war. As collection archivist Lincoln Cushing stated in the press release, "As illustrations, these posters are a wonderful and potent way to generate discussion about a subject. The posters are not just a time capsule; however, the Bay Area continues to be a powerhouse in the production of political posters in the world.?"

These posters are a glimpse into how art and design are powerful tools for community engagement. Because sometimes, words don’t do an issue justice. We’ve seen examples from the Asian American movement in the 1970s and more recently in the fight for the DREAM Act and the battle against SB 1070. Globally, artists in Egypt created a space to make political posters during the protests in Tahrir Square.

Here are a few samples of the amazing work from the "All Of Us or None" collection:

"All Power to the People" (Emory Douglas, 1969)

"Black Pantheress" (George Stowe, Jr., 1972)

"End the Racist War on Our Hoods! End the Racist War in Iraq!"
(Melanie Cervantes, 2008)

"Racism Chains Both" (Hugo Gellert, circa 1970)

"Cops Out Of Vietman: Cops Out of The Ghetto: Stop the Draft Week"
(April 23, 1968)

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