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Ashley Bryan, Protest drawing no.3, pen and ink on paper, The Bronx, 1960s
Ashley Bryan, Protest drawing no.3, pen and ink on paper, The Bronx, 1960s

Introduction

The author, artist, and humanitarian Ashley Bryan, whose archive was acquired by the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts in 2019, responded to Civil Rights protests about police brutality in the 1960s with this series of drawings, made from his studio overlooking Tremont Avenue in the Bronx.

According to the Ashley Bryan Center timeline, Ashley 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”—some look like they were originally identified as being from the 1950s, only to have the “5” turned into a “6” later on—the most likely date for these images is 1963. In that year, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) led a series of protest marches in New York City, including the Bronx. “CORE” is present on many of the posters held by protesters. 

This online exhibit presents 11 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 “Justice Now.” 

Exhibit

Ashley Bryan created a series of drawings as he witnessed protests against police violence in the Bronx. These drawings likely date from 1963.