Pages from the Ann Arbor Sun
Tuesday December 7, 2021: 12:00pm to Friday March 4, 2022: 12:00pm
Downtown Library: 2nd Floor Exhibit
The Ann Arbor Sun was the newspaper for a succession of communities around the paper's founder and first editor, John Sinclair. Begun in 1967 in Detroit as the Warren-Forrest Sun, the name was changed to the Ann Arbor Sun when the Trans-Love Energies commune moved to Ann Arbor in 1968 and set up shop at 1510 and 1520 Hill St. Under the guidance of artist and graphic designer Gary Grimshaw, the Sun from its first issue was uncommonly devoted to atypical newspaper layouts, bright colors, and interesting illustration.
The newspaper in Ann Arbor was the mouthpiece for the White Panther Party (WPP), a radical leftist organization formed to support the Black Panther Party in seeking racial justice. In 1969, John Sinclair was sentenced to 10 years in prison for giving two marijuana joints to an undercover police officer. The Sun and the Hill Street commune spent much of the next two years fighting this sentence, culminating in the John Sinclair Freedom Rally on December 11, 1971, a concert at Crisler Arena featuring John Lennon, Stevie Wonder, Commander Cody, Bob Seger, Bobby Seale, and Allen Ginsberg, among others. Three days after this concert, John Sinclair was freed from Jackson Prison.
Over the course of 1971, the White Panther Party morphed into the Rainbow People’s Party (RPP), an organization dedicated to solving problems at the local level, often through the creation of leftist alternatives to traditional institutions. The Ann Arbor Sun was an important part of this work, not only acting as an alternative to the conservative Ann Arbor News, but also working to promote the work of the RPP such as the People’s Food Co-op, the Free People’s Clinic, Ozone House, the People’s Community Center, and the People’s Ballroom. The Sun worked closely with the Human Rights Party, which first won seats on the Ann Arbor City Council in 1972 elections and moved local government in a progressive direction. The Sun suspended publication in 1976.
This exhibit is a small sample of pages showing some of the work—visual, prose, and within the community—that took place under the masthead of the Ann Arbor Sun.
To see the full run of digitized issues of the Ann Arbor Sun and to learn more about the WPP and RPP, visit freeingjohnsinclair.aadl.org
To learn more about the work of Gary Grimshaw, visit GrimShopArt.com