Finally Got the News: The Printed Legacy of the U.S. Radical Left, 1970–1979
edited by BRAD DUNCAN and INTERFERENCE ARCHIVE
Finally Got the News uncovers the hidden legacy of the radical Left of the 1970s, a decade when vibrant social movements challenged racism, imperialism, patriarchy and capitalism itself. It combines written contributions from movement participants with original printed materials—from pamphlets to posters, flyers to newspapers—to tell this politically rich and little-known story.
The dawn of the 1970s saw an absolute explosion of interest in revolutionary ideas and activism. Young people radicalized by the antiwar movement became anti-imperialists, veterans of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements increasingly identified with communism and Pan-Africanism, and women were organizing for autonomy and liberation. While these movements may have different roots, there was also an incredible overlapping and intermingling of activists and ideologies.
These diverse movements used printed materials as organizing tools in every political activity, creating a sprawling and remarkable array of printing styles, techniques, and formats. Through the lens of printed materials we can see the real nuts and bolts of revolutionary organizing in an era when thousands of young revolutionaries were attempting to put their beliefs into practice in workplaces and neighborhoods across the U.S.
Editors: Brad Duncan and Interference Archive
Publisher: Common Notions
Published: June 1 2017
Size: 7 X 10
Page count: 256 Pages
Subjects: Art and Politics / Revolutionary History / Design and Criticism
Finally Got the News invites us to step into the vibrancy of our radical past. This amazing collection of movement ephemera—posters, flyers, newsletters, pamphlets, broadsides, and handwritten chant sheets—accompanied by critical essays from radical thinkers, introduces or reminds us of our tradition of struggle. In a period where the archive is a vital resource for a new generation of liberationists, Finally Got the News brings history to life. The collection helps us recognize ourselves and each other: the cultural workers who made the flyers; the editorial collective laboring to produce the paper; the notes in the margins by the original owners. Our comrades, our labor, our vision. And in this way, Finally Got the News becomes what it is documenting, a portrait of an organic movement that continues to bloom.
—kai lumumba barrow, dreamer
Finally Got the News has as much relevance today as its printed materials did in the 60`s and 70`s. Brad Duncan has put his finger on something that is very useful and important for people who want to understand the efforts and accomplishments of anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, leftist who organized in the past and honoring many brave souls who literally gave their life for the revolutionary movements. If a picture speaks a thousand words then this compendium speaks volumes to anyone who wants to learn history. Its images and articles can be transformed into a present day organizing tool and blueprint for anyone who is organizing in the national or community movements. Power to the People and right on Brad Duncan!
—Hy Thurman, Chairman and cofounder, Young Patriots Organization Chicago; cofounder, Original Rainbow Coalition
The decade of the 1970s is too often either forgotten entirely or remembered as a period of defeat, plain and simple. Lost are the continuous struggles, sharp debates, and strategic innovations that not only survive today, but provide the essential groundwork for many of our own struggles. By returning our attention to this crucial interlude, and by doing so on the basis of an unforgettable archive of movement visuals, Finally Got the News helps to prepare us for the difficult days ahead.
—George Ciccariello-Maher, Associate Professor of Politics and Global Studies at Drexel University and author of We Created Chávez: A People's History of the Venezuelan Revolution
The publication of Finally Got the News: The Printed Legacy of the US Radical Left, 1970–1979 is a great service to the broader study of the US radical left in this, the cusp decade that lies between the end of the Vietnam War and reactionary Reagan administration’s wars on the people of the world. While covered in part by authors such as Fred Halstead and Max Elbum, Duncan brings to life through the digitizing of a very large sample of Left publications and leaflets in areas that span the early 1970s labor strikes and mass actions around Black Liberation to various revolutionary perspectives on the Nicaraguan and Iranian Revolutions at the end of the decade. This book presents it in living color, through the covers of these publications. All the historical tendencies on the Left appear to be represented through the presentation of their covers of their journals in this valuable book. As a revolutionary digital archivist working at a bricks-and-mortar labor library I've always seen the crying need to preserve, this, our common history. Finally Got the News: The Printed Legacy of the US Radical Left, 1970–1979 by Bradley Duncan and the Interference Archive has greatly contributed to this preservation by its publication. Well done!
—David Walters, Director of the Holt Labor Library (San Francisco, CA)
Neither the news, nor even the truth will actually set you free (not even in these times of fake news, truthiness, and other lies)—but Finally Got the News does go a long way in arming us with an approach to popular struggle which will bring us a bit closer towards true liberation. Every bit as relevant today as when the ‘zines discussed were first printed, this extraordinary collection of pamphlets, booklets, and publications—and vital commentaries on the important roles they played in communicating and educating an entire generation—is an historian’s dream come true. But it is designed instead for a 21st century street activist, and reads in part like a modern crime thriller. In dark times, it can be hard to remember the revolutionary fervor of just a decade or two ago; on the other hand, for elders, it can be too easy to break out into sermons about “the good old days.” Finally Got the News prevents both pitfalls from taking place: by including contemporary writings by youthful scholars, older organizers, and everyone in between, we get a critical interpretation of an often-forgotten aspect of people’s power. And if the news is getting you down, and you get tired for one moment of reading, you can check out the funky graphics. They’ll knock your socks off!
—Matt Meyer, educator, organizer, author and editor of Let Freedom Ring: A Collection of Documents from the Movements to Free U.S. Political Prisoners
Brad Duncan’s Finally Got the News blew me away. It captures the vibrancy and diversity of 1970s radicals through the words and images they produced at the time. Its short essays about left print culture across a range of political movements and formations are both clarifying and inspiring. Its “radical roundtable,” a collective interview with veteran activists, pushed me to think in new ways about the role that periodicals and publications played in movements at the time. The book itself is a work of art and the broad array of activism it chronicles is breathtaking. As we gear up for a new set of struggles, these voices, images, and photographs, remind us of the rich legacy we have inherited.
—Karen Miller, Professor of History, LaGuardia Community College, author of Managing Inequality: Northern Racial Liberalism in Interwar Detroit
This is a book to immerse oneself in. It’s as if a rare archive of 1970s radical literature was shipped to your living room. Just as you start to marvel at the variety of material, the doorbell rings, and a half-dozen militants active in those years stop in to share their experiences and point to their favorite documents. Add to the mix punchy remarks by some of today’s sharpest movement-grounded historians, and you’ve got a unique treasure of an experience.
—Andy Cornell, author of Unruly Equality: U.S. Anarchism in the Twentieth Century
ABOUT THE EDITORS AND CONTRIBUTORS
Silvia Federici is a leading scholar in the autonomous feminist Marxist tradition. She was involved with the Wages For Housework campaign and the Midnight Notes Collective. She is the author of Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation (Autonomedia, 2004) and Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle (Common Notions/PM, 2012).
Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the former president of TransAfrica Forum, a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, and a veteran labor movement activist. He was a founding member of the Black Radical Congress.
Emily K. Hobson is Assistant Professor of History and of Gender, Race, and Identity at the University of Nevada, Reno. She is the author of Lavender and Red: Liberation and Solidarity in the Gay and Lesbian Left (University of California Press, 2016).
Badili Ifadoyin Jones-Goodhope is a former member of the February 2nd Movement, Revolutionary Workers League (Marxist-Leninist), Communist Party (M-L) and the African Liberation Support Committee. He is a longtime labor, community and LGBTQ movement activist now living in Miami and member of Freedom Road Socialist Organization / Organización Socialista del Camino para la Libertad.
Dan La Botz was a founding member of Teamsters for a Democratic Union and is the author of many books on labor politics including Made in Indonesia: Indonesian Workers Since Suharto (South End Press, 2001), Cesar Chavez and La Causa (Pearson Longman, 2006), and What Went Wrong? The Nicaraguan Revolution: A Marxist Analysis (Brill, 2016). For twenty years he was the editor of Mexican Labor News and Analysis and is a coeditor of New Politics.
Elly Leary is former member of Proletarian Unity League and a longtime autoworker activist and union negotiator. She is a regular contributor to Monthly Review on labor politics and history and is a member of Freedom Road Socialist Organization / Organización Socialista del Camino para la Libertad.
Akinyele Umoja is a Professor and Department Chair of the Department of African American Studies at Georgia State University. He is a founding member of the New Afrikan People’s Organization and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and the author of We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Struggle (NYU Press, 2013).
Ethan Young is a former editor with CrossRoads magazine, Monthly Review Press, and Cuba Update (Center for Cuban Studies). He was a regular writer for the Guardian (NY) and Frontline (Oakland, newspaper of the group Line of March), and is a moderator of the listserv Portside.org.
The mission of Interference Archive is to explore the relationship between cultural production and social movements. This work manifests in an open stacks archival collection, publications, a study center, and public programs, all of which encourage critical and creative engagement with the rich history of social movements.
The archive contains many kinds of objects that are created as part of social movements by the participants themselves: posters, flyers, publications, photographs, books, tee shirts and buttons, moving images, audio recordings, and other materials. Through our programming, we use this cultural ephemera to animate histories of people mobilizing for social transformation. We consider the use of our collection to be a way of preserving and honoring histories and material culture that is often marginalized in mainstream institutions.
As an all-volunteer organization, all members of our community are welcome and encouraged to shape our collection and programming; we are a space for all volunteers to learn from each other and develop new skills. We work in collaboration with like-minded projects, and encourage critical as well as creative engagement with our own histories and current struggles. As an archive from below, we are a collectively run space that is people powered, with open stacks and accessibility for all. We are supported by the community that believes in what we’re doing.
Kazembe Balagun is the North American Project Manager for the Rosa Luxemberg Stiftung in New York. He contributed “We Be Reading Marx Where We From: Socialism and the Black Freedom Struggle” to the book Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA (Harper Perennial, 2014).
Dan Berger teaches Comparative Ethnic Studies at the University of Washington Bothell and is an antiprison activist. His most recent book is Captive Nation: Black Prison Organizing in the Civil Rights Era (UNC Press, 2014).
Johanna Brenner is an Emeritus Professor of Women’s Studies/Sociology at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon. She is the author of Women and the Politics of Class (Monthly Review Press, 2000) and is a contributor to various left publications, such as Against the Current, Jacobin, Socialist Register, and Socialist Studies.
Over the past thirty years, Stephanie Browner has worked as Director of the Test Kitchen for Vegetarian Times magazine, as well as Managing Director of the Man Ray Trust Archive, where she produced traveling exhibitions including “Unconcerned But Not Indifferent,” which toured nine museums in Europe and Japan.
Brad Duncan is an activist and a union library worker who has been collecting printed materials related to social protest for twenty years. His work as a collector focuses on the radical movements and liberation struggles of the sixties and seventies, some of which can be seen on his popular blog, The R. F. Kampfer Revolutionary Literature Archive. In 2014 his archive was the focus of an exhibition titled “Power to the Vanguard: Original Printed Materials from Revolutionary Movements Around the World, 1963–1987” at Trinosophes in Detroit, Michigan.
From the Book
"The anticolonial and anti-imperialist struggles in the global South opened up an entire world to activists in the U.S. It broke the Left and progressive forces from a U.S.-centered narrowness and introduced knowledge, experience and politics that had previously been blocked from these shores. It forced domestic movements to rethink their ideologies, strategies and tactics and to recognize how much could be learned from a variety of political movements and social experiments. In essence, these solidarity movements helped us to advance in a way that might have been thought impossible. Despite any and all problems with how these experiences were interpreted, their very existence was an inspiration to struggle, and an inspiration to win." —Bill Fletcher, Jr.
"The radical activists of the Women’s Liberation movement (WLM) in the seventies fiercely defended women’s need to self organize, to theorize, and to act free from the patriarchal control of men. Many WLM activists, who had cut their political teeth in the New Left, remained committed to anticapitalist revolution. Their experiences in the revolutionary currents of the late sixties and early seventies—and the politics that defined those currents—deeply informed their choices about who to organize and around what issues to organize, as well as the political frameworks on which they drew to analyze the oppression of women. Revolutionary organizations could not long remain untouched by the huge and growing women’s movement. By the end of the seventies the broad range of feminist politics had moved from the margins to the center of the revolutionary left." —Johanna Bren
"It wasn’t until rise of the New Left in the late sixties and especially the early seventies that May Day was revived in the United States, although it remained a vibrant left workers day in the rest of the world, where left movements had not been crushed. Revolutionary organizations organized annual May Day events in cities across the country, ranging from rallies to picnics. May Day events in the seventies generally stressed working class internationalism, and often got special coverage in the party newspapers and publications. But their impact and numbers were puny; two hundred people was considered a great turn out. Leave it to immigrant workers, mostly from Latin America, to bring May Day back to the American workforce with a vengeance. The May 1, 2006 nationwide march and strike—a 'day without immigrants'—for positive immigration reform and legalization did what many of us nonimmigrants had been working on for decades." —Elly Leary
"Finally Got the News gives documentation to the activity and perspective of the period. Much of what is exhibited here influenced activists like myself and gave us the inspiration to keep on pushing in the face of political repression and internal movement contradictions. It is imperative that contemporary activists study the work of their predecessors, our strengths and contributions, our errors and weaknesses. Hopefully lessons can be learned that will continue to inspire and enlighten new generations of freedom fighters. Finally Got the News allows us to 'look Back, so we can move forward.'" —Akinyele Umoja