How Posters Helped Shape America and Change the World

One enthusiast’s collection, on exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California, offers a sweeping look at grass-roots movements since the 1960s

(Pam Valois, Don't Call Me Sweetheart: A Poster Exhibition of Women's Images and Issues, 1978. Collection of the Oakland Museum of California, All Of Us Or None Archive. Gift of The Rossman Family)
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Iran / Leah Statman—Gonna Rise Again Graphics / 1978 / 2010.54.1157

(Leah Statman, Gonna Rise Again Graphics, Iran: People in struggle for independence and democracy, Circa 1978. Collection of the Oakland Museum of California. Gift of The Rossman Family)
In 1978, the students and working-class people of Iran were engaged in a movement much like the recent Arab Spring. Their situation was comparable: Any opposition to the puppet government of the shah—Mohammad Reza Pahlavi—was met with arrest, torture and often execution. In 1979, a bloody revolution and purge deposed the shah and his supporters. Democracy, however, was not the result. Iran’s new government, controlled by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, led the country down a path of Islamic fundamentalism. Today, Iranian society again finds itself polarized—as many students and educated professionals call for free speech, fewer religious restrictions, and democratic reforms. This poster (among many others) was created by Gonna Rise Again Graphics, a San Francisco collective formed with the intent of “supporting efforts to dismantle U.S. capitalism and imperialism.” The gifted artist, Leah Statman, died in 2011 after a long second career as a marriage and family counselor.

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