From the category archives:

Politics

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the massive strikes and demonstrations held in Paris and across France in May 1968. To this day, “May 68” is considered to be a cultural, social, and moral turning point in the history of France, and the events of that time had a resounding impact which was felt for decades afterwards.

Students in France were critical of the country’s outdated university system and dissatisfied with the lack of employment opportunities for recent graduates. Sporadic demonstrations for education reform began earlier in 1968, but on May 3rd a massive protest at the Sorbonne in Paris had to be broken up by the police, resulting in hundreds of arrests and dozens of injuries.

Following the protest, the Sorbonne was closed and classes cancelled, and students took to the streets surrounding the university (in Paris’s Latin Quarter) to continue their demonstrations. On May 6th, the Union National des Étudiants de France (UNEF) organized a march of more than 20,000 students, teachers, and their supporters. Protesters created barricades against the police charging with their batons, paving stones were hurled, and tear gas administered. According to estimates, over 500 protesters were arrested and 350 protesters and police injured.

On the night of May 10th, students set up barricades in the Latin Quarter and rioted, ending with close to 400 people in the hospital, more than half of which were police officers. Students called for radical changes to take place, and union leaders started planning strikes in support. In an attempt to defuse the crisis, Prime Minister Pompidou announced that the Sorbonne would reopen on May 13th.

Instead, on the 13th, students occupied the Sorbonne, turning it into a commune. Students and workers protested together in the streets, organized by the Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT) and the Fource Ouvriére (CGT-FO), with estimates counting over a million marchers that day. Over the next several days things escalated dramatically. Strikes spread to other universities in France as well as labor unions, and by the end of the month a massive widespread strike had extended to factories and industries across France, shutting down newspaper distribution, air transport, and two major railroads. Millions of workers were on strike, up to 22% of the population of France at the time, and the country seemed to be on the brink of revolution.

On the night of May 24th, the worst fighting occurred. Students temporarily seized the Paris Stock Exchange, raised a communist flag, and tried to set it on fire. One policeman died during the riots. Over the next few days, Prime Minister Pompidou attempted to negotiate with union leaders but failed to end the strike. The most radical students called for revolution with a meeting of the UNEF on May 27th which gathered 30,000 to 50,000 people at Stade Sebastien Charlety. They wanted the government overthrown, but their radical demands lost the support of the union leaders.

On May 30th, President de Gaulle announced that he was dissolving the National Assembly and would be holding elections. His appeal for a return to law and order gained the support of the middle class, and the labor strikes were abandoned. Student protests continued until June 12, when protests were banned. Two days later, the students were evicted from the Sorbonne. Elections were held over two rounds at the end of June, and the Gaullists won a commanding majority. Concessions were made to the protesters, including higher wages and improved working conditions for laborers, and an education reform bill was passed to help modernize the French university system.

F.A. Bernett currently has in its inventory two items dating from this period of upheaval and important change in Paris.

(Paris ’68)Collection of Leaflets Related to the 1968 Unrest in Paris. Group of approximately 200 original leaflets regarding the events of May 1968 in Paris, all originating from the “Press Office” located at the Sorbonne, dated from May and June 1968, most issued by the Comite d’Action Ouvriers Etudiants, primarily typed documents in French, some printed, including notices to their comrades and fellow students, memos, declarations, calls to action, notes on press conferences, and others, a few with cartoons or other drawings, some with ink or marker notations, overall excellent. Various sizes, mostly 4to. Sheets loose as issued, housed in an archival box. Paris 1968. (48892)

Action. Nos. 1 through 47 (7 May 1968- 3 June 1969) (all published). A complete run of 49 issues (including 2 unnumbered issues between nos. 38 and 39) of this panoramic documentation of the 1968 uprisings (issues ranging from 2 to 8 pp.), which covered events in the tumultuous year both in France and internationally with emphasis on happenings in Paris, including a wide range of articles, essays, reviews, etc., accompanied by a plethora of illustrations, including drawings, cartoons, caricatures, photographs, posters, etc. Nos. 4-20 and 23-41 large folio; nos. 1-3, 21-22, and 42-47 folio. Wrpps., all covers illustrated. Paris 1968-1969. (47080)

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The 1960s were a tumultuous time in history, both in the United States and around the world. The 1960s saw the Bay of Pigs, the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., important strides in the Civil Rights Movement including the Greensboro sit-in and the Selma-to-Montgomery march, student protests and demonstrations, second-wave feminism, and the Vietnam War.

The Black Panther Party (originally called the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense) came into existence during those years of political protest and change, being founded by Bobby Seale and Huey Newton on October 15, 1966. The left-wing organization’s goals were the right to self-defense, better housing, jobs, and education for African Americans in the United States. They were greatly influenced by Malcolm X, and believed that violence or the threat of violence might be needed to help bring about change. Later they added a focus on community social programs including feeding impoverished children and opening community health clinics. However, their earliest activity was often tied up in violence.

Their core practice at the time was armed citizens’ patrols to monitor the activity and behavior of the Oakland Police Department and challenge police brutality. Party members would listen to police calls on a short-wave radio, rush to the scene of the arrest with law books in hand, and inform the person being arrested of their constitutional rights. They carried loaded weapons during these patrols which they displayed publicly, but were careful to not interfere with any arrests.

In 1967, the California legislature passed the Mulford Act, named for one of its authors Don Mulford, which repealed a law allowing the carrying in public of loaded firearms. The bill was written as a response to the Panthers’ armed patrols, which were later called “copwatching”. The media even dubbed it “the Panther Bill”. As a response, on May 2, 1967, the Panthers marched, bearing arms, upon the State Capitol to protest the bill. They carried loaded rifles and shotguns and entered the Capitol to read aloud Executive Mandate Number 1, which was in opposition to the Mulford Act. They tried to enter the Assembly Chamber but were forced out, and so read the mandate out on the lawn. The legislature’s response was to pass the bill, and the protest and media coverage helped catapult the Black Panther Party into the national spotlight and led to a huge growth in membership numbers. F.A. Bernett currently has in its inventory a group of original press photographs taken during this 1967 protest.

Group of Black Panther Press Photographs. Eleven original press photographs documenting the 1967 Sacramento Black Panther Party armed protest against the Mulford Act and the ensuing court case, taken by Walter Zeboski, a former Associated Press photographer, with photographs showing members of the Black Panther Party on the steps of the California State Capitol, protesting inside the Capitol with guns raised, and on trial for felony charges stemming from the armed protest, six with original typed captions, one with hand-written notation to margin. Most sheets 8-1/8 x 11-3/4 in. Original loose photographs, housed in contemporary sheet protectors, some accompanied by original film negatives. N.p. (Sacramento, California) 1967.

Some of the figures identified in the photographs are Assemblyman Don Mulford, who sponsored the bill; Assemblyman Willie L. Brown, Jr.; Beverly Axelrod, a Sacramento attorney representing the Panthers; and Mark Comfort, Huey Newton, and Bobby Seale, Black Panther Party members on trial. (48837)

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48453c_008A complete archive of the original artwork, photographs, advertisements, and fully edited and corrected typewritten essays which comprise the official guide to the 1936 Democratic National Convention, held in Philadelphia: including 41 original pen and ink drawings by Lyle Justis used as vignettes and illustrations throughout the text; over 200 original photographs, most with identification stamps, photographers include Harris & Ewing, William Rittase, Earl C. Roper, Arthur Rothstein, Ben Shahn, Lewis Wickes Hine, H.H. Rideout, Phillip B. Wallace, Theodor Horydczak, Underwood & Underwood Studios, Jean Sardou, and Bachrach, departments include the U.S. Bureau of Mines, the U.S. Forest Service, the Treasury Department, the Resettlement Administration, the U.S. Navy, the National Park Service, and the Works Progress Administration; and approximately 47 original typewritten manuscripts, heavily edited and corrected, which make up the essays printed throughout the program, including biographies of important members of the Democratic Party and reports from a wide variety of governmental departments, programs, and administrations; together with typed letters from members of the Democratic National Committee and advertisers in the program, captions, ad copy, and three copies of the program, one final printed version in orig. illus. wrpps. and two mock-ups of the signed limited edition of the program, full calf bindings.

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The contributors to the 1936 program include varied and notable figures from politics, journalism, and other fields. Hendrik Willem Van Loon was a historian and the first children’s book author to win the Newbery Medal. Roosevelt later called on him to work on his 1940 presidential campaign. Bascon Timmons was an esteemed newspaperman with a career spanning six decades, who served as an advisor to Presidents Coolidge and Roosevelt.

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Edward A. Filene was known for building the Filene’s department store chain and for his role in pioneering employee relations, a 40-hour work week, minimum wage for women, profit sharing, paid vacations, and credit unions. Claude Bowers, who served President Roosevelt as ambassador to Spain and Chile, wrote such influential histories of the Democratic Party that they moved Roosevelt to build the Jefferson Memorial. James Hamilton Lewis was the first Senator to hold the title of “Whip” in the United States Senate, and was a leader in getting much of Woodrow Wilson’s “New Freedom” legislation passed. Cordell Hull was the longest-serving Secretary of State in US history, and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1945 for his key role in establishing the United Nations.

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Henry Morgenthau, Jr. served as Secretary of the Treasury under FDR and was instrumental in designing and securing financing for the New Deal, as well as playing a major role in establishing the financing for US participation in World War II through a system of war bonds. Homer Cummings, the U.S. Attorney General from 1933 to 1939, secured the passage of twelve laws related to the “Lindbergh Law” on kidnapping, made bank robbery a federal crime, established Alcatraz prison, and strengthened the FBI. James Farley served simultaneously as Chairman of the Democratic National Commitee and Postmaster General under the first two Roosevelt administrations, and revolutionzed the use of polls and polling data.

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Harold L. Ickes served as Secretary of the Interior and Administration of Public Works, was reponsible for implementing much of Roosevelt’s New Deal, and was in charge of the Public Works Administration relief program. Frances Perkins Wilson was the longest-serving Secretary of Labor and the first woman appointed to the Cabinet. During her tenure, she helped pull the labor movement into the New Deal coalition, assisted in getting the Civilian Conservation Corps and Public Works Administration up and running, crafted laws against child labor, enacted the Fair Labor Standards Act which cemented minimum wage and overtime laws and defined the 40-hour work week, and established the Social Security Act which included unemployment benefits, pensions for the elderly, and welfare for the poor. Marriner S. Eccles was a banker, economist, and member and chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, whose essay in this program titled “The Economic Program Since 1932” is a sort of blueprint for the New Deal.

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Harry L. Hopkins was one of the architects of the New Deal, especially the relief programs of the Works Progress Administration, which he directed and turned into the largest employer in the country. During the War, Hopkins also acted as Roosevelt’s unofficial emissary to Winston Churchill. Rexford G. Tugwell was an economist who took part in Roosevelt’s first “Brain Trust”, a group of academics who helped develop policies leading up to the New Deal. Tugwell helped design the New Deal farm program, the Soil Conservation Service following the Dust Bowls of the 1930s, the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and the Resettlement Administration, a unit of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration which helped the rural unemployed.

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Mary Williams (Molly) Dewson was a feminist and political activist who served as the head of the Women’s Division of the Democratic National Committee where she worked with FDR to bring the women’s vote into action. She also worked with delinquent girls and domestic workers, served with the American Red Cross in France during World War I, and as president of the New York Consumers’ League, worked closely with Eleanor Roosevelt to pass labor laws for women. Fannie Hurst was a novelist and suffragist who fought for women to preserve their maiden names after marriage. Charl Ormond Williams was a teacher and suffragist who became the first woman to serve on the Democratic National Committee, and was the youngest and first southern woman to serve as President of the National Education Association.

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A Collection of Leftist Political Posters, 1960-2010

April 15, 2016

Cuba, OSPAAAL (Organization of Solidarity with the People of Asia, Africa, and Latin America), 1971 and 1972  Extensive and Culturally Significant Archive of Approximately 500 Political Posters. An important, unique, and carefully curated collection of political posters, dated from approximately the 1960s to the 2000s, from a wide variety of leftist and militant groups in […]

Charlie Hebdo’s Ancestors

January 23, 2015

  Journalism in France has a rich tradition of political satire and caricature, dating back many hundreds of years and gaining footholds at many crucial moments in France’s history. Popular in the 17th century, Molière and Jean de la Fontaine earned their fame mocking the upper echelons of society through comic plays or fables, often […]

Anni di piombo. The Lead Years, 1968-1982.

Thumbnail image for Anni di piombo. The Lead Years, 1968-1982. August 11, 2014

“Anni di piombo” (“The Lead Years”) has little nostalgic resonance in the US. Unlike “Mai ‘68”, which instantly evokes exhilarating scenes of French student occupations, demonstrations, police brutality, wildcat strikes, riots, and barricades. (And perhaps some fervent threesomes if you made it through Bertolucci’s The Dreamers.) While Mai ‘68 appears retrospectively as both the unfulfilled […]

Contest of Realism. Novyi Lef.

Thumbnail image for Contest of Realism. Novyi Lef. March 11, 2014

Novyi Lef. Zhurnal Levogo Fronta Iskusstv. Year 1, No. 1 (January 1927) through Year 2, No. 12 (December 1928) (all published). 24 issues, published in 22 vols. as issued, comprising a complete first edition of the Soviet avant-garde monthly designed by Alexandr Rodchenko under the editorial direction of Vladimir Mayakovsky, followed by Sergei Tret’iakov, each […]

“The Bankers Shall not Make the Peace” Labor Day Sketch Book 1947

Thumbnail image for “The Bankers Shall not Make the Peace”  <i>Labor Day Sketch Book 1947</i> June 10, 2013

Sally, Ted (drawings). Labor Day Sketch Book 1947. Los Angeles CIO Council. Unpaginated (ca. 32 pp.) presentation of proposed designs, drawn by Sally, for floats, banners, costumes, and other accoutrements for a union-oriented progressive Labor Day parade. Oblong large 4to. Orig. printed wrpps. Los Angeles (CIO Council) 1947. (47538) In the spring of 1947, The […]

Picturing Anarchy: The Graphic Design of Rufus Segar.

Anarchy 41: The Land June 27, 2011

Anarchy.  A Journal of Anarchist Ideas. Vol. 1, no. 1 (Mar. 1961) – vol. 10, no. 12 (Dec. 1970) [Alternately numbered nos. 1-118.] (entire first series). 118 numbers in ten consecutively paginated volumes.  8vo.  Illus. wrpps. In the early 1960s, the editors of Freedom Press, those stalwart protectors of the anarchist tradition in Great Britain, […]