In the Spring semester of 2020, an exciting use of historical photographs by UConn Digital Media and Design students brought to life the images of student protest in the 1960s and 1970s held by the University of Connecticut Archives. In collaboration with Assistant Professor Anna Lindemann and MFA graduate Instructor Jasmine Rajavadee of the Digital Media and Design Department, the Motion Graphics 1 class (DMD 2200) spent a portion of their semester in the archives to understand the context of photographic collections and practice their skills on digital collection items. This exploration led to the creation of new uses for the recorded past. The class assignment drew on digitized 35mm negatives, Kodachrome color slides, and black&white photographic prints to demonstrate a 4D animation process of still images to bring static subjects to life. Collections utilized for this project ranged from the Cal Robertson Collection of anti-nuclear demonstrations in New London, Howard S. Goldbaum’s Photography for the Daily Campus newspaper documenting anti-Vietnam War demonstrations in Storrs, New York, and Washington D.C., and University of Connecticut Photography Collection images of the 1974 Black Student sit-in at Wilbur Cross Library. To view a selection of the Student Unrest Photography in 4D project, follow this link to our Youtube page.
This project was a timely and innovative use of a subject matter that was re-energized through Storrs campus demonstrations around racism, global climate change and mental health advocacy throughout the 2019-2020 academic year. In addition, UConn Archives exhibitions Day-Glo & Napalm: UConn from 1967-1971 on student life and activism of the Vietnam War Era and UConn Through the Viewfinder: Connecticut Daily Campus Photographs from the Howard Goldbaum Collection at the William Benton Museum of Art reminded the community of it’s involvement during times of national change.
This is the second time that the UConn Archives has worked with Prof. Lindemann and the DMD department to utilize photographic collections for class projects, the first drew on child labor images from the U. Roberto Romano Collection which can be viewed here.
Anti-Racism Coalition of Connecticut, pamphlet.
On June 18 2015, Dylann Roof, 21 years old, shot and killed nine African-Americans at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. When Roof was apprehended, he wore the flags of Apartheid-Era South Africa and Rhodesia, former white supremacist settler colonial states in Southern Africa. Roof also had Confederate flags hung on his walls and frequented white power websites. These race based murders fueled an ongoing debate about Confederate symbolism and its usage in the private and public spheres. The Alternative Press Collection at the Archives & Special Collections is comprised of fringe publishing from both ends of the political spectrum such as White Patriot and Death to the Klan. The current debate around the Confederate flag draws on long standing uses of historical interpretation and cultural identity dating to the Civil War and Reconstruction era of 1861-1877. As demonstrated in this exhibition currently on display in the Archives through these selected materials from the Alternative Press, Northeast Children’s Literature and Labor collections, figures such as Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, abolitionists John Brown and Frederick Douglass serve as symbolic totems of heritage, spirituality and citizenship. Continue reading
The Week of the Strike, May 9 1970
In 1968 students at UConn demonstrated against the ROTC and military recruiting on campus as national uprisings began to foment against the war in Vietnam. Corporate job recruiting by General Electric and Olin Mathieson on Gilbert Rd. drew confrontations between protestors and state police along with President Homer D. Babbidge’s approach toward a business friendly posture for the university. The combative times of the UConn Crisis in 1968-1969 was the prologue to an even more eruptive year to come. Lyndon Johnson’s escalation of the war led to major backlash in the mid to late 1960s which President Nixon’s administration promised to diminish by quietly widening military campaigns into neighboring Cambodia.
Student demonstrations in over 1,250 college campuses across the country led to confrontations with local police and the national guard. On May 4th, 1970 protests at Kent State University in Ohio led to National Guardsmen firing into demonstrators killing four individuals and wounding several others. The events of 1970 galvanized much of the public’s perception on the war in Vietnam however clashes at home along class and race lines similarly disrupted any clear consensus about the war at home and abroad. The days following the Kent State shootings on the University of Connecticut campus would produce the actions of students, faculty and administration which declared 1970 as the high water mark for social upheaval. The events below were extracted from the extensive archive documented by student organizations, administration and the Daily Campus: Continue reading
Steve Thornton has spent his career advocating for fair wages, fair practices and fair treatment for all. Sometimes all that advocating has gotten him arrested! Here is yet another photograph of Steve getting arrested at a protest, this one at the Waterbury, Connecticut, Brass Mill mall during a Local 1199 protest to save Waterbury Hospital in 2013:
Stephen Thornton being led into a police van at the Waterbury, Connecticut, Brass Mill mall during a Local 1199 protest to save Waterbury Hospital, 2013
Steve is one of our featured speakers at a panel discussion, Social Justice & Community Organizing: How to Make a Career by Serving Connecticut, tomorrow at 3:30p.m. in Konover Auditorium at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. Steve will be joined by Louise Simmons (UConn professor of Community Organizations) and Val Ramos (Director of Strategic Alliances for Everyday Democracy).
We can’t wait for Thursday’s program on “Social Justice & Community Organizing: How to Make a Career by Serving Connecticut,” with Steve Thornton, Louise Simmons, and our recently added panelist Valeriano Ramos.
Val Ramos is the Director of Strategic alliances and Equity Officer for Everyday Democracy, an East Hartford-based non-profit dedicated to helping communities talk and work together to create communities that work for everyone.
The program is at 3:30 in Konover Auditorium, with a reception following, and sponsored by Archives & Special Collections, the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, and UConn’s Careers for the Common Good.
We hope to see you there!
Stephen Thornton at a Ladies Garment Workers Strike, 1992
Join us for a program exploring social activism, service leadership, and community organizing with a panel discussion including Stephen Thornton and Louise Simmons, who have served as community organizers and labor activists.
The discussion begins at 3:30 on November 13 in Konover Auditorium at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, with a reception to follow.
Sponsored by Archives & Special Collections of the UConn Libraries, the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, and UConn’s Community Outreach.
Click here for more information.