Celebrate People's History: National Prisoners Reform Association

Alexander Dwinell
GVSU Collection
2 Color Offset Printed Poster
December 2010
Artworks - Height: 17" Width: 11"
A black and orange poster where the background is orange and the overlay of five people in black ink around the works "Building Freedom Behind Bars". There is text at the bottom in black ink that reads: “In 1973 a group of workers in Walpole, MA, forged a cross race coalition demanding better pay, improved safety, and a bigger say in determining their working conditions. When the “managers” went on strike—a company lock out— the workers seized control. That the workers were prisoners and that in taking control of the factory they also took control of the prison makes the story even more amazing. During their period of control, Walpole went from one of the most dangerous prisons in the US to one of the safest. Education classes were developed and the idea of rehabilitation actually became a possibility. Behind fellow inmates Bobby Dellelo and Ralph Hamm, prisoners organized as the National Prisoners Reform Association with a call for blue unity (as opposed to the brown uniforms of the guards). The NPRA fought for NLRB recognition and to democratically run Walpole prison. For an all-too-brief period the men of MCI-Walpole proved that the abolition of prison can be reality.”
Historical Context:
The Celebrate People’s History posters are rooted in the do-it-yourself tradition of mass-produced political propaganda. These posters embody democracy, inclusion, and group participation in the writing and interpretation of the past. Unlike most political posters, the posters part of the Celebrate People’s History series tell the stories of the underdogs, those individuals and groups helping to move forward the collective struggle of humanity to create a more just world. For 20 years, over 130 different posters have been displayed on the streets of over a dozen cities representing over 150 artists and writers. The Celebrate People’s History Poster Series has been organized and curated by Josh MacPhee since 1998.