Browse Exhibits (3 total)

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Snapshots: Community Networks and Media Ephemerality

This exhibit includes an array ephemeral pieces, all of which give insight into how non-majority communities communicate both with themselves and with others via creative outlets. 

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Institutional Reactions to Student Activism

This exhibit investigates several historical instances of politically motivated student activism and how institutions such as the federal government, police agencies, and college administrations reacted to them.

The first section discusses the Iranian Hostage Situation. It details some of the decisions the United States' federal government made during the hostage situation as a strategy to pressure Iran and ensure the release of embassy workers.

The next page of the exhibit, 1960s UT Activism and Enforcement, details the rise of student activism on UT-Austin’s campus with special emphasis on the use of underground newspapers and the Students for a Democratic Society organization. This part of the exhibit also explains how local police agencies and the Federal Bureau of Investigation aided in the documentation and suppression of student activism on campus.

The final page of the exhibit, Motivations for Surveillance, draws from the same collection but focuses on administrative memoranda from the University of Texas. This section of the exhibit provides an institutional view of the conflicts that took place on campus in the 1960s, including the changing power dynamic between the students and the university adminsitration, the influence of national politics on university affairs, and the pressure from external groups to push back against student activism.

The common thread that connects the three sections is a view of activism as a reciprocal process that involves the activists, their audience, and the institutions that are forced to respond to challenges to their authority. As you view this exhibit, please consider the connections between these materials and reflect on the complexities of activism and the responses it often generates.

Disclaimer: This page uses archival material from the collections of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin. The nature of these documents limited the scope of our research, and many of the narratives explored in this exhibit invite further inquiry. Many more social and political factors contributed to institutional reactions to student activism. The curators hope that this exhibit will serve as a useful source to researchers but encourage the user to reference other sources as well.

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The Cause of the Texas Farm Workers' Union

The Texas Farm Workers' Union was an energetic, radical organization with a particular affinity toward direct actions such as wildcat strikes and highly publicized marches. The group, facing incredibly steep odds and with only extremely limited outside support, evidently decided that this particular style of agitation was their best chance at finally achieving the unionization of farm laborers in Texas.

Their urgent, bold, and anti-authoritarian organizational philosophy is a reflection of the strained relationships the Texas Farm Workers' Union had with farm owners and the Texas State government— traditional enemies of labor organizing— as well as with Cesar Chavez’s United Farm Workers, a less obvious adversary.

The story of the Texas Farm Workers' Union has unsettling implications for the modern observer. Despite their noble cause, the Union was eventually forced to cease operations due to financial difficulties. This points to the limitations of our political system and the injustices that remain entrenched within it, especially those between Texan farm owners and their workers.

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