Last semester, Archives Graduate Assistants Miranda Siler and Nicole Marconi collaborated with Preserving Activism research fellow Amber Colón to create the Libraries’ first digital exhibit: Protests at Pratt: Student Activism Then and Now. Amber, a graphic design major minoring in Social Justice, is working on a strategic initiative project entitled Preserving Activism Beyond and Between Pratt’s Gates, which is devoted to exploring Pratt’s relationship to the social movements that shaped the school and community from the time of its founding to the present. Working on this exhibit provided a great opportunity for Amber to partner with Miranda and Nicole, two School of Information students pursuing Master’s degrees in Library and Information Science.
To develop this exhibit, Miranda and Nicole digitized and cataloged materials from the Archives, ranging from pages of the Prattler to ephemera related to protest actions. These documents trace student activism at Pratt spanning the late 1960s and early 1970s and include documentation of the demands of the Black Student Union for racial equity, the anti-war movement, the rapid rise in tuition costs, and initiatives for community involvement.
Left: Create Center for Peace flyer, 1970. Right: Youth Service Coalition promotional material, circa 1970s. Pratt Institute Archives.
Protest organized by Architecture students, 1968. Pratt Institute Archives Negatives Collection.
Miranda, Amber, and Nicole describe their exhibit as follows:
In the year 2020, we are currently looking at a world that is fraught with uncertainty. The world is facing a global pandemic that has made people rethink how they’re going to be able to live their lives in any kind of normal way. In the United States, the presidential election has caused more tension between politicians and voters alike. People all around the United States are engaging in activism, whether it be through physically participating in protests such as Black Lives Matter rallies or virtually participating through online engagement. At educational institutions, students such as ourselves are thinking about what this current climate means for our future endeavors.
But in thinking towards the future, we’re also thinking of the past. This exhibit looks to examine the history of activism at the Pratt Institute and how this relates to trends that are currently taking place. In order to move forward, we want to look at how different initiatives such as community outreach, peace efforts, and the involvement of the Black Student Union have all come together to make the Pratt Institute what it is today.
Check out the full inaugural exhibit here: https://specialcollections.pratt.edu/exhibits/show/protest-at-pratt. To view more items related to activism at Pratt Institute, visit our digital collections portal.