Emory Douglas and the Black Panther Party

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Founded by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale in Oakland, California, in October 1966, the Black Panther Party initially advocated black nationalism and armed revolution, hoping to achieve by force the racial equality its members believed court-ordered integration and civil disobedience could not deliver. The Panthers eventually emphasized community-based activism, advocating, among other things, free health care, fair housing, community control of schools and police, and programs to end hunger, drug abuse, crime, and police brutality.

Central to the Panthers’ mission was a visual campaign aimed directly at the black community and led by Emory Douglas, the party’s minister of culture. His graphic style suggests a number of artistic influences, including African textiles, Cuban propaganda broadsides, and American social realist art of the 1930s and 1940s. It also owed much to commercial advertising, employing bold color, repetitive and striking iconography, and snappy catchphrases. The party’s sophisticated visual campaign was intended not for the elitist world of the museum, but rather the spaces and institutions of everyday life, as seen in these posters from the weekly The Black Panther newspaper.



Image Credits/Captions (Click on thumbnails for full image)

Emory Douglas, Hey, Mister, What are You doing to the Poor, May 6, 1972; We Shall Survive without a Doubt, 1971; We Want Education for Our People, May 11, 1969; Each Photo-Silkscreen on Paper. 15 1/2 x 11 in. Collection of Alden and Mary Kimborough