Labor Studies and Radical History

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Bob Mattingly Button Collection

Political Buttons

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Date: 1961

Place: USA

Text: Hands Off Cuba

Size and material: 1" paper/metal

Color: red on white

Maker: AFL-CIO, Local 64 [union bug]

Subject:: Fair Play for Cuba Committee ; United States -- Relations -- Cuba

Background: A February 25, 1961 issue of Student Council, published by the Student Council, Fair Play for Cuba Committee, advertises: "BUTTONS, BUTTONS, BUTTONS! Attractive red and white 'Hands of[f] Cuba' buttons are now available through the national office of Fair Play. They only cost a quarter and they're going like ... buttons. When ordering yours don't forget to ask for the 'Lift the Travel Ban' petition to President Kennedy.'" (p. 4)


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Date: 1968

Place: USA

Text: JCR; Support the French Revolution -- Jeunesse Communiste Revolutionnaire -- YSA

Size and Material: 2" paper/metal

Color: red/black on white

Maker: AFL-CIO, Local 64 [union bug]

Subject: Student movements -- France ; Jeunesse Communiste Revolutionnaire ; Young Socialist Alliance

Background: 1968 was a year of worldwide protests. In May and June of that year, a mass student uprising in France led to a general strike by ten million French workers. The Young Socialist Alliance (YSA), a Trotskyist youth group in the United States, issued this button, designed by Carol Lipman, to show solidarity with their cothinkers, the Jeunesse Communiste Revolutionnaire (JCR), in France. The button was advertised in The Militant and the Young Socialist for 25¢ or 17¢ for orders of 20 or more. (Young Socialist, July-August, 1968; The Militant, August 2, 1968.)

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Date: 1968, October 12

Place: San Francisco, California, USA

Text: GIs & Vets March for Peace; Oct. 12; San Francisco

Size and material: 2" paper/metal

Color: white on orange

Maker: [unknown]

Subject: Vietnamese Conflict, 1961-1975 -- Protest movements -- United States

Background: According to Fred Halstead's account in his book, Out Now! A Participant's Account of the American Movement Against the Vietnam War, "500 active-duty GIs and some 15,000 civilians demonstrated. The main civilian support for this effort came from the SMC [Student Mobilization Committee], the Vets for Peace, and some of the organizers of the April 27 demonstration.... The demonstration was entirely peaceful, and great care was taken to keep it that way so GIs could attend without being arrested. Two of the leaders of the march...did suffer disciplinary action. They had decided to wear their uniforms in spite of the regulation on that point." (Halstead, p. 433-4)

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Date: 1968

Place: USA

Text: by any means necessary

Size and Material: 1 3/8" paper/metal

Color: black on yellow

Maker: AFL-CIO, Local 64 [union bug]

Subject: Malcolm X ; Black Nationalism -- United States ; Young Socialist Alliance

Background: Button was issued by the Young Socialist Alliance. Quote, which became a rallying cry, is from a speech by Malcolm X at the the first public rally of the Organization of Afro-American Unity, held at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City on June 28, 1964. In that speech he states: "That's our motto. We want freedom by any means necessary. We want justice by any means necessary. We want equality by any means necessary. We don't feel that in 1964, living in a country that is supposedly based upon freedom, and supposedly the leader of the free world, we don't think that we should have to sit around and wait for some segregationist congressmen and senators and a President from Texas in Washington, D. C., to make up their minds that our people are due now some degree of civil rights. No, we want it now or we don't think anybody should have it." (Malcolm X. By Any Means Necessary, 1970. p. 37)

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Date: 1970

Place: USA

Text: Women's Liberation - Vote Socialist Workers in '70

Size and Material: 1 5/8" paper/metal

Color: blue on orange

Maker: Socialist Workers Campaign, 2338 Market, San Francisco, California

Subject: Feminism ; Women's Rights ; Women and Socialism ; Socialist Workers Party

Background: According to The Militant, the Socialist Workers Party was "an integral part of and builders of the women's liberation movement since its inception." (October 9, 1970) On October 17, 1970, the California SWP campaign sponsored a one-day conference, Write Women Back into History, featuring Terry Hardy, their candidate for state controller, speaking on "American Feminism--Roots of our Movement" and Diane Feeley, the SWP candidate for U.S. Senate, talking about "Revolutionary and Socialist Women." (The Militant, October 16, 1970)

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Date: 1971, April 24

Place: San Francisco and Washington D.C., USA

Text: April 24; SMC

Size and Material: 7/8" metal

Color: white on blue

Maker: Horn Co., Phila[delphia]

Subject: Vietnamese Conflict, 1961-1975 -- Protest movements ; Student Mobilization Committee

Background:  The call for an April 24 demonstration came out of a Student Mobilization Committee (SMC) conference held in February. The demonstrations were cosponsored by the two main antiwar coalitions; the National Peace Action Coalition (NPAC) and the People's Coalition for Peace and Justice. Organizers estimate that over half a million people marched in Washington D. C. and over 300,000 marched in San Francisco. Halstead wrote in Out Now of the diversity of the participants and that "tens of thousands of trade unionists many cases defying top union officials...condeming Nixon's recently imposed wage freeze. One of the most popular [slogans] was: 'Freeze the War, Not the Wages." (Halstead, p. 612)

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Date: 1970-72

Place: USA

Text: Free Angela

Size and Material: 1 5/8" paper/metal

Color: black on orange

Maker: GAU [union bug]

Subject: Davis, Angela Yvonne, 1944- --Trials, litigation, etc. ; Trials (Conspiracy)--California--San Jose.

Background: "August 9, 1970...I was alone with Helen hiding from the police and grieving over the death of someone I loved....Two days earlier...I learned of the Marin County Courthouse revolt and the death of my friend Jonathan Jackson...Over the last months I had been spending practically all my time helping to build a mass movement to free the Soledad Brothers--Jonathan's brother, George, John Clutchette and Fleeta Drumgo--who were facing a fraudulent murder charge inside Soledad Prison. I had just been fired from my teaching position at the University of California by Governor Ronald Reagan and the Regents because I was a member of the Communist Party. No one needed to tell me that they would exploit the fact that my guns had been used in Marin in order to strike out at me once more." (Davis, Angela. An Autobiography, 1974. p. 3-4) Davis was arrested on October 13, 1970, spent sixteen months in prison, and was finally acquitted of all charges on June 4, 1972.

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Date: 1984

Place: Michigan, USA

Text: Pulley for Congress; Vote Socialist Workers

Size and Material: 1 5/8" paper/metal

Color: red/white on black

Maker: GAU [union bug]

Subject: Socialist Workers Party ; Pulley, Andrew ;

Background: In 1984, Andrew Pulley was the Socialist Workers Party candidate for Congress in Michigan's 1st Congressional District. Pulley campaigned against the privatization of Wayne County General Hospital (The Militant, September 28, 1984) and, along with other SWP candidates, launched a successful lawsuit to overturn the Michigan Board of Canvassers' decision to deny ballot status. (The Militant, October 12, 1984) Pulley was one of the "Fort Jackson Eight," antiwar GIs who spoke out against the Vietnam war and were arrested for "incitement to riot" --charges that were eventually dropped. He was the SWP candidate for Vice President of the United States in 1972 and for President in 1980. (Pulley, Andrew. How I Became a Socialist, 1980)

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Date: 1996, June 6-9

Place: Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Text: History in the Making; Labor Party Founding Convention; June 6-9, 1996; Cleveland, Ohio

Size and Material: 3 1/4" paper/metal

Color: red / yellow / black / white on purple

Maker: OCAW [union bug]

Subject: Labor Party Advocates

Background: "The long-running, low key but aggresive campaign to organize a new party anchored firmly inside the American Labor Movement, will culminate next June in Cleveland, Ohio when delegates from across the nation formally launch a grassroots, working class-based political movement." (Labor Party Advocate, August 1995) According to the organization's website, the founding conference attracted "1,400 delegates from hundreds of local and international unions as well as individual activists." They adopted a 16-point program, the "Call for Economic Justice," that "demands that everyone who wants to work have a right to a decent-paying job. As long as millions of us remain jobless or employed at jobs that pay poverty wages, all of us will suffer." (Labor Party: FAQs. )


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Page created by Shannon Sheppard, MLIS
Marc Lambert, MLIS candidate
Romy Ruukel, Photographer
rev. 01/22/09