New York: 1982. A gathering of 50 items collected by an attendee at the anti-nuclear demonstration in New York City, which remains the largest political demonstration in the history of the United States. On that date approximately 1 million people gathered in the city and converged upon Central Park. The event was the culmination of the “freeze” initiatives which began after the election of Ronald Reagan. The following year, the events surrounding the Able Archer brought the world closer to large nuclear disaster than perhaps any event in history. This, coupled with the success of the June 12 demonstration, is often credited with compelling the softening of the rhetoric of nuclear war between the U.S. and the USSR, leading to the Reykjavik summit. It may be reckless conjecture, but perhaps not hyperbole to suppose that the demonstration may have played a role in saving the world from nuclear war.
Ironically, the success of the march may have softened the movement, which in the United States would never again achieve the broad appeal of that day in June 12. The subsequent failure of the US and USSR to cease their nuclear arms programs in the wake of the Reykjavik summit led other countries to incubate their own nuclear arms programs, including Iran and North Korea.
This small archive is remarkable for the breadth of materials collected, both with regards to the different interests which came together for the march, as well as the kinds of material. The man who assembled them assembled not only leaflets and posters which were handed out that day, but also several sandwhich boards used by protesters, a no parking sign issued by the city, and even a DC 37 union cap. In combination with the printed materials, these additional items are central to the evocation of the sense of place of the march, and of the sense that it could happen again.
While most items are in very good condition, some exhibit greater wear - in some instances, footprints or asphalt indenting, likely from being picked up off of the pavement, or foxing. The periodicals are very slightly musty, and one leaflet suffers from insect damage. Please inquire for a condition report on any specific part of the gathering.
Posters, Sandwich Boards and Placards.
1. DC 37. Curb the Bombs. Care for the People. / Nobody Wins a Nuclear War!
22 x 28” placard, silkscreened in two colors on heavy chipboard on recto. On the verso is hand written “Nobody Wins a Nuclear War!” in large letters in ballpoint pen.
2. Support the Arms [Human] Race.
22 x 28”, silkscreened in red on thick chipboard. With the word “Arms” boldly crossed out in black paint, and the word “Human” written above. With a thick section of twine attached to the board through two roughly cut holes.
A beautiful poster, highly reminiscent to the posters produced during the student uprising in Paris in May of ’68.
3. U.S. Peace Council. Freeze and Reverse the Arms Race.
22 5/8 x 28 5/8”, silkscreened in blue on white card stock.With remnants of an old cord handle still present through a hole cut into top margin.
4. U.S. Peace Council. Stop Racist Cutbacks.
22 5/8 x 28 5/8”, silskcreened in blue on white card stock. With cord handle attached at upper margin through a roughly cut hole.
5. All-Peoples Congress. Feed the People Not the Pentagon.
17 1/2 x 22 3/4”, offset litho in two colors on white card stock. With cord handle tied through two roughly cut holes at top margin.
6. New York Police Department. No Parking.
New York: New York Police Department, 1982. 10 1/4 x 12 3/8” placard, offset printed on thick white card stock. With elastic band affixed through two holes punched through the placard.
1. District Council 37, AFSCME, AFL-CIO hat.
5 1/4 x 11 1/4”, folding green and white cellucap, with mesh top.
2. To Our Metropolitan Region ‘June 12 Passengers’.
7 x 8 1/2” leaflet, printed on white paper. An informational leaflet likely produced by the Metropolitan Transit Authority, outlining precedures to arrive in and leave Grand Central Station and avoid overwhelming the transit hub - a handbill which evokes the sheer size of the event and the logistical difficulties of getting such a large amount of people into the city.
C. Leaflets and Handbills
32 items. Includes handbills from a variety of groups which were passed out during the day, highlighting the intersection of very disparate groups which handed out literature under the anti-nuclear theme. Of special note are a map of the Disarmament City campsite in Central Park, a xeroxed flyer reproducing a media article primer for the event, with holograph notations in marker regarding routes, a Yippie poster calling for a protest the following week against Reagan’s address to the U.N., flyers for upcoming protests, and several handbills issued from Japanese groups referencing the horrors of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, including a small poster and manifesto from the Women’s Department of the Ritseumeikan Teachers’ Union.
Groups represented include Disarmament City, Ban Bombs Not Bongs, The Workers’ Advocate, Workers Power, The Committee to Stop Chemical Atrocities, Yippies, Revolution Books, Imagine, the June 14 Nonviolent Disarmament Blockades, Peace Projection, Kiyoshi Tanno, Dianetics, U. S. Peace Council, United Nations General Assembly Second Special Session on Disarmament, The Committee to Prevent Nuclear War, Womens Department of Ritsumeikan Teachers’ Union, New York State Nuclear Weapons Freeze Ballot Campaign, Delegation from the Tokushima Denuclearization Society, The City of Tsukuba, Japan, and the Tsukuba Science Society, N. Y. June 12 Disarmament Campaign, Campaña por el Desarme, United Nations “2000” Fund, Westchester / Putnam / Fairfield Campaign for the Special Session on Disarmament, Working Committee Against the FBI/CIA Executive Order, Performing Artists for Nuclear Disarmament, Anti-Draft Festival, Lt. Governer Mario Cuomo, Nihon Hidankyo, and others.
10 Periodicals handed out at the event, including one specially published for the event - the June 12 Peace Extra. Other titles include the Buffalo Anti-Imperialist Newsletter, Unity, Young Worker, The Guardian, Communist Workers Party, Workers World, Nuclear Reactions, Workers Vanguard, and Daily World. Item #26391