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Red Power on ‘The Rock’

03 June 2004

 




Michelle Vignes photo

In the autumn of 1969, Native American activists landed on Alcatraz Island, home of the recently-closed and much-storied federal penitentiary, and claimed it as Indian land. “We Hold the Rock,” an exhibition on view through the summer at the Free Speech Movement Café, offers a window onto their 18-month occupation of Alcatraz, as
documented by photographers Ilka Hartmann and Michelle Vignes. Included in the mix are now-iconic images of the ruins of Alcatraz tagged with Red Power graffiti, as well as quotidian moments rarely seen by the public — as in Vignes’ photo, above, of a larder of food donated to the occupiers’ “kitchen.” Accompanying text by Cal State Long Beach Professor Troy R. Johnson describes the significance of this historic event. The FSM Café is located in Moffitt Undergraduate Library; the exhibit is cosponsored by the Bancroft Library and is wheelchair accessible.