"Rock Against Reagan" Tank Top


This "Rock Against Reagan" tank top was purchased by Michelle Cruz Gonzalez (1969-), a Xicana (Chicana) punk musician and author of The Spitboy Rule: Tales of a Xicana in the Punk Band, on July 19, 1984, the day of the Rock Against Reagan concert, in San Francisco, California at the Democratic National Convention's official protest site across the street from the Moscone Convention Center. Rock Against Reagan was a series of punk rock concerts organized in protest of President Ronald Reagan, his administration and its policies, and his 1984 re-election campaign.

The 1980s saw the rise of conservatism known as the “New Right” in American politics and culture, in part a backlash to the social movements of the 1960s and ‘70s, expressed in the economic, social, and diplomatic policies of President Ronald Reagan who was first elected in 1980. Some objected to the policies and themes of the Reagan era, which included an emphasis on “American” values and traditional roles for women in the family. Punk, an existing countercultural musical and stylistic form that was critical of the mainstream and included many prominent female artists, served as one means of protest.

The tank top, which makes visible Gonzales’s identification with punk and her resistance to Reagan, is pink with black screen printing that shows a caricature of President Reagan and reads "Rock Against Reagan / U.S. Tour / 1984." The screen-printing technique suggests that many shirts were produced and, given punk’s target audience of teens and young adults, were likely inexpensive. The trim around the arm and neck holes has been removed. In 1985, Gonzales used permanent marker to change the year to read 1985 instead of 1984 to show her anger at Reagan being re-elected.

Date Made: 1984

Depicted (Sitter): Reagan, Ronald Wilson

Location: Currently not on view

Subject: ProtestGeneral Subject Association: Women's HistoryFashionGenderPunk cultureSubject: Presidents--Election


See more items in: Culture and the Arts: Musical Instruments, Clothing & Accessories


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Michelle Cruz Gonzales

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 2018.0253.01Accession Number: 2018.0253Catalog Number: 2018.0253.01

Object Name: shirt

Physical Description: fabric (overall material)ink (overall material)Measurements: overall (flat): 21 1/2 in x 15 in; 54.61 cm x 38.1 cm

Guid: http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746b3-c148-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa

Record Id: nmah_1899166

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