Peering at a Dark Time in Tiananmen Square Through Stokes Archive Glass
Twenty five years ago Tiananmen Square was splashed with the blood of protestors. For seven weeks they had banded together to advocate a democratic future for the Peoples Republic of China. Their voices were stilled June 4, 1989 by the guns of China’s army. The protestors’ optimistic vision of reform was reflected later that year in the fall of the Berlin Wall and has persisted in China to this day.
In respectful remembrance of the terrible sacrifices exacted in Tiananmen Square, and to inform thoughtful reflection, we offer a few glimpses gleaned from the Marion Stokes Archive of how U.S. media told the story.
Marion Stokes, an African American librarian and social justice advocate, dedicated the last thirty five years of her life to recording television news so that we might consider the past through the lens of contemporaneous media. Her devotion resulted in an extraordinary collection of 40,000 video cassettes. We are in the very early stages of beginning to index the collection and experiment with digitizing it.