Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Strike Poster Workshop
Arm Band
Work Type
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Poster, screenprint on fabric
Screen print
overall: 64.3 x 9 cm (25 5/16 x 3 9/16 in.)
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Anonymous Loan
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art
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Cloth arm band with printed red fist
Like Dr. Martin Luther when he nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg in 1517, the Harvard Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) tacked a list of six demands on the door of President Nathan Pusey's 17 Quincy Street house at midnight, April 9, 1969. The demands included the abolition of ROTC at Harvard, more scholarships, lower rent for those living in university-owned apartments, and the promise that occupied housing would not be demolished for the construction of new Harvard buildings. Disgruntled with the administration's lack of response, the student protestors stormed University Hall that day at noon and ordered all deans and administrative staff to vacate the building. State troopers and local police forcibly removed the demonstrators just before dawn the following morning. 145 Harvard and Radcliffe students were arrested. In the wake of the police action, Harvard students decided to strike until their demands were met. Two more demands were added to the original six: that student protestors not be punished and that Black Studies be added to the curriculum.

Printing became the protestors' most powerful tool. They published documents purloined from the deans' offices in the underground newspaper, Old Mole. Graduate School of Design students established the Strike Poster Workshop in the Great Space of Robinson Hall. They chose the red fist as the symbol of their dissent, designed silkscreens and cut stencils, and printed the fist on paper, t-shirts, and arm bands. The April 13 issue of the Old Mole stated, "The GSD people in Robinson Hall will silkscreen a red fist on anything you bring in: t-shirt, jacket, poster, your ass. They are working practically all the time." The workshop created a variety of strike poster designs with an assortment of protest slogans, including "End ROTC," "Maybe They Can't Hear Us, Strike a Little Louder," and "12345678 STRIKE." Students carried them during rallies, posted them on trees, buildings, and other facades across the Yard and Square. Photographs of the turmoil appeared in the national press, including the New York Times and Life magazine. The publicity photographs often featured the printed materials of the Strike Poster Workshop. In the aftermath of the strike, some of the protesters' demands were met-ROTC was eliminated, the charges against the students who occupied University Hall were dropped, and Black Studies was made a field of concentration.
Exhibition History

DISSENT!, Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 11/11/2006 - 02/25/2007

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