Historians call it ephemera: the ticket stubs and posters that often are just thrown away or put in scrapbooks. But there are times when the humble handmade sign becomes more than a personal memory — it becomes documentary evidence of a special moment in time. That’s why Smithsonian archivists started collecting the handmade posters and other materials especially created for the street protests following the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. Why is it important to collect this protest art? And what is its historic meaning?


Aaron Bryant, museum curator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

Steven Booth, archivist with the U.S. National Archives, and member of ‘The Blackivists’ a collective of trained Black archivists who prioritize Black cultural heritage preservation.

Alessandra Renzi, associate professor of communication studies at Concordia University, who spearheaded ‘The Art of the March’ initiative at Northeastern University - a digital archive of the 2017 Boston Women’s March.