Political Prisoners. The very words evoke images of Siberian Gulags, South Vietnamese tiger cages, a stadium in Santiago, Chile, and Robben Island in South Africa. To most U.S. citizens, the associations are overwhelmingly international because the very existence of U.S. political prisoners is officially denied, and the widespread domestic and international efforts demanding their freedom are rarely reported. The powerful posters in Can't Jail the Spirit!-Political Prisoners in the United States demonstrate that it continues to be a domestic human-rights issue.
Throughout the twentieth century, posters
have been one of the primary tools for organizing support for political
prisoners. Potent graphics give witness to the prisoners' existence, inform
the public about their status, mobilize support on their behalf, and prevent
them from being forgotten by future generations. Can't Jail the Spirit!
includes posters from the labor and anarchist movements of the early twentieth
century, the McCarthy period, the Puerto Rican independence movement,
the protest movements of the 1960s and 1970s, and concludes with current
political prisoners. Nearly thirty years of posters demanding freedom
for Leonard Peltier remind us that these posters have a life-and-death
function for those still imprisoned.
©2004 Center for the Study of Political Graphics
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