California Studies Association

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Pete Seeger – the California connection


Pete Seeger and Grupo Raiz, benefit concert for La Pena Cultural Center, Berkeley, 1982. Poster by Lincoln Cushing. Click on the image to see more at OMCA.

Pete Seeger died January 27 at the earned age of 94. He was the banjo-toting bard for several generations of social justice activists, encouraging people to do what they could to make the world a better place. He was truly inspirational, and visual evidence of his rich trail can be seen in the posters made for his concerts and other musical performances. The Oakland Museum of California is cataloging a huge trove of political posters, and of course, many bear the name of Pete Seeger. These posters span the years 1967 to 1990, and show some of the many issues he supported.

There are many California connections. A 1967 poster was for a benefit concert supporting an antiwar campaign at Port Chicago; the event was produced by African American cultural organizer Mary Ann Pollar, a seminal figure in the early Berkeley folk music scene. And Seeger’s father, Charles Seeger, taught music at the University of California, Berkeley from 1912 to 1916 when he was dismissed for his antiwar beliefs. The apple did not fall far that tree. [LMC]