Wayne “Wally” Zampa was an art student at Foothill College (Los Altos, California) when the movement against the Vietnam war reached a fever pitch in the spring of 1970, after the U.S. invasion of Cambodia and the tragic student deaths at Kent State and Jackson State universities. In an effort to bridge the iconic needs of both the peace movement activists and the more militant antiwar activists, Zampa crafted a combination of the classic peace symbol and the clenched fist.
His graphic was chosen as the “national strike symbol” by the California Students’ Offensive and the National Student Congress at a May conference held at San Jose State College. The image was printed as a broadside in the May 15, 1970 issue of the Foothill Sentinel. Here’s his recollection of the events:
“I do know that the strike symbol came first. I remember that I made the poster with the “UNITE” under the symbol when things were starting to wind down. I vaguely remember that when the people from Stanford showed up, they wanted prints of the strike symbol. I had already cleaned the screen of the first artwork and replaced it with the new artwork the organizers wanted, so they had to settle for what I was then printing. I seem to remember that they were kind of disappointed but I was also wondering why they would want any of this stuff anyway. I never thought of the strike symbol as “art”. “
It was a powerful graphic, and was picked up and reproduced in numerous other settings. It was one of nine posters reproduced in the United Against the War folio produced by U.C. Berkeley art professor Herschel B. Chipp as fundraiser for antiwar activities. It was later used in an early poster for the April Coalition, a Berkeley progressive slate for City Council that later became Berkeley Citizens Action.
-Lincoln Cushing with help from Wally Zampa