The author, artist, and humanitarian Ashley Bryan — whose archive was recently acquired by the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts — responded to Civil Rights protests about police brutality in the 1960s with a series of drawings, made from his studio overlooking Tremont Avenue in the Bronx.
A new online exhibit, Justice Now: 1960s Protest Drawings by Ashley Bryan, highlights these drawings. According to the Ashley Bryan Center timeline, Ashley only took the Bronx studio in the early 1960s, upon his return from an extended visit to Germany, where he had been studying on a Fulbright scholarship.
While the dates written on the actual drawings just say “1960’s,” the most likely date for these images is 1963, when the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) led a series of protest marches in New York City, including the Bronx. If you look closely at the drawings, you can read the word “CORE” on many of the posters held by protesters.
This online exhibit presents eleven works on paper: two pen and ink drawings and nine watercolors. The signs carried by these protesters speak to today’s issues as well: “Stop Police Brutality Now,” “End Police Bias Now,” “Jim Crow Must Go,” “Freedom Now,” “We Demand Decent Police Now,” and, of course, “Justice Now.”