The American Agriculture Movement: Part 2

capitol tractor001

Last year, the Southwest Collection shared our American Agricultural Movement (AAM) Records in an exhibit entitled Tractorcade! commemorating the 35th anniversary of the AAM’s last great Tractorcade in 1979. It featured oral histories, photographs, newspaper articles, and artifacts that allowed our curators to tell this unique story of authentic U.S. grassroots activism.

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We told you back then about the AAM’s formation in Campo, Colorado, in 1977, and its focus on “Parity”—economic balance between agriculture, other industries, and the U.S. government. It organized farmer’s strikes throughout the U.S., using pamphlets such as the one above to get them going. And it worked: in 1977 around 5,000 farmers held a tractor rally in Lincoln, Nebraska. Farmers in other states soon followed with their own rallies.

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Unfortunately, the AAM’s activism sometimes led to violence. On March 1st, 1978, a large group of protesting farmers was trapped on the International Bridge south of McAllen, Texas. U.S. police and Mexican Federal troops tear-gassed and beat some of the protestors, later arresting and jailing 200 of them. But this wasn’t typically the case. At almost the same time, numerous farmers found themselves peacefully gathering in Washington, D.C., in opposition to the 1977 Farm Bill. All of these events and many others were chronicled in local publications such as the American Agricultural News, of which we have dozens of issues. The above article and poems are examples of such, written by supporters–but not necessarily protest participants–from Oklahoma and Kansas, not just Texas or the AAM’s birth-state, Colorado.

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Combinations of strikes, protests, and legal opposition would later lead to massive Tractorcades in 1978 and 79. January of the former saw around 3,000 farmers driving their tractors to Washington, D.C. 1979 proved even more successful on a second trip to D.C., although traffic across the nation found itself stuck behind slow moving tractors festooned with protest signs. Washington was practically shut down as they drove through the city, and when at last they stopped at the National Mall, the police quickly penned them in with squad cars and city dump trucks. Surprisingly, there were only a few scuffles between farmers and police. Most interactions were friendly, although national public opinion was split on the farmer’s stated issues. But the Tractorcade can, in some part, be summed up by their emotional visit to the Lincoln Memorial documented in the photo above. It was a peaceful affair, generating unity within the AAM and fond memories for all of the participants that they’ve shared with SWC staff during every visit.

AAM profit pamphlet010AAM profit pamphlet inside011

There are many other tales of the Tractorcade and the AAM available at the Southwest Collection, many found in oral histories of participants and opposition members alike. They explain to interested researchers how the AAM metamorphosed into the guardian of farmers and lobby-er of politicians that it is today. These materials, and the many newspapers, documents, and artifacts in the AAM collection, are always available for research. And our helpful Reference Staff shows up when the rooster crows every day to make sure they can help you find them.

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Mad Trends 2: Even Madder

mustache 2 17 70

We love poring through old issues of Texas Tech’s student newspaper, The Toreador (or the University Daily, depending on the vintage.) We already told you a bit about this obsession not long ago, particularly about our love for vintage advertisements (not to mention the TTU student body’s obsession with streaking.) Truly the 1970s held a wealth of advertisory entertainment, and we’ve come across a few more to keep you entertained. Incidentally, these can all be found in an exhibit currently on display at the Southwest Collection. Come on by and check that out, too!

As for the mustache ad above…there’s very little to say about this ad that it doesn’t say for itself, so let’s move on.

ktxt ad 4.29.74

KTXT is TTU’s college radio station, and has been since the 1950s when it was known as KTTC on AM radio, and later KTXT at 91.9 FM. It’s now 88.1, and continues to “stick things in your ear,” primarily music and student talk radio.

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Town Draw seems like a fairly innocuous local bar, given this ad. Just look at the cheerful cartoon folk strolling its wood floors, blissfully unaware of how hard they’re violating copyright. And that wasn’t the only lawbreaking that went down at the Town Draw. In one interview (which we sadly haven’t been able to track down in the archive again before posting this,) a musician who long-since left Lubbock, Texas, claimed that “everyone (he) knew had a story about that they almost got killed there.” It is remembered fondly by some of the bands played there, however, so it couldn’t have been all that bad…

red streaker 2.28.74

We told the tale a while back of streaking’s tremendous popularity on the TTU campus in 1974. Some of the more diplomatic among the University Daily’s staff used this trend to defuse a growing controversy in 1974 over the first female Masked Rider (TTU’s black-clad horseman (or woman) who races the sidelines of every home game.) Why not discard the horse entirely, they proposed, and have someone streak the field before every game? A handy ballot was provided, and while we’re not sure what the precise tally was, the fact is the Masked Rider still rides today.

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In March 1976 some Red Raiders were getting excited about a TV show that had ended its run 7 years before: Star Trek. Its creator, Gene Roddenberry, was about to visit the Student Union Building (still called the University Center, or “UC,” at that time – hence the logo.) By all accounts, the room was packed.

jaws brittany 9.2.75

Yum-yum. Yum-yum. Yum-yum, yum-yum, yum-yum, yum-yum. That’s our attempt at a hamburger-y Jaws theme. It is not only a lesser copyright infringement than The Brittany’s September 1975 advertisement, it might also be a less-groan-worthy pun than “treat your jaws.” It might be…

So come on by the ol’ Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library and check out this exhibit (or any of its very fine neighbors.) And if you need to see some other newspapers, or just get some research done in general, our always-on-point Reference Staff would be happy to get you all set up.