Paul Williams - The Pogo Riots
This paper contextualises one of the lesser-known civil disturbances in US history, namely the Pogo Riots of 1952. That year Walt Kelly’s syndicated character Pogo the Possum ran for US President, a mock campaign intended to increase subscriptions for the Pogo newspaper strip. Kelly travelled around the country delivering soapbox speeches and addressing rallies, usually on university campuses, but the campaign event at Harvard in May 1952 got out of control and a riot erupted, involving up to 5,000 people, 3 injured police officers, and 28 arrests. Building on Kerry D. Soper’s account of the Harvard riot in We Go Pogo: Walt Kelly, Politics, and American Satire (2012), this paper discusses other disturbances and demonstrations relating to the 1952 Pogo campaign, putting them in dialogue with the Pogo newspaper strip and the highly gendered competition within and between New England universities.
In the video, I refer at one point to the "daily Globe" - for the avoidance of doubt, this is the Boston Globe.