Last semester, art students in Brett Colley’s GVSU class on printmaking, invited me to come talk about the Grand Rapids People’s History Project. The intent of the class was to have students investigate their own part of a People’s History of Grand Rapids and then make a print based upon an individual social movement or a particular moment in Grand Rapids history.
This print is by Shelby Lijewski, reflects the organizing that was taking place in the late 1970s, 80s and 90s against the threat of nuclear war. The bulk of the anti-nuclear organizing in Grand Rapids was centered around the national Nuclear Freeze Campaign.
The Nuclear Freeze Campaign was mostly organized through the Institute for Global Education, which involved educational campaigns, ballot initiatives and direct actions against nukes. The direct action campaigns were also organized autonomously across Michigan and in Grand Rapids. Some of the direct action work involved civil disobedience and civil resistance, such as people going underground to avoid the police after being arrested at an anti-nuclear action. Therefore, this print is a great contribution that honors the anti-nuclear work that has been done in Grand Rapids.