This article describes an under-reported success of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. Through a creative team led by the party’s Minister of Culture Emory Douglas, who was also the Black Panther (BP) newspaper’s designer and main illustrator, the Panthers visualized compelling alternatives to post–Civil Rights Black assimilation in the United States. Douglas and the other artists filled the paper’s pages every week with drawings, cartoons, and posters that empowered people who were historically relegated to subservient representations in mainstream media. Douglas’s larger posters were wheat-pasted on walls in Black communities, creating advertising for psychological liberation as the struggles for complete liberation continued on several fronts. Through textual and visual analysis of BP newspapers from 1968, clear visual strategy and intentions are deconstructed in a way that illuminates the party’s more visible words and public actions and explains why their “revolutionary art” resonates into the twenty-first century.
The Art of Liberation: Emory Douglas and the Black Panther Artists in 1968
Colette Gaiter is a professor in the Departments of Africana Studies and Art and Design at the University of Delaware. Her writing on former Black Panther artist Emory Douglas’s work appears in Art, Global Maoism, and the Chinese Cultural Revolution (2019) and the monograph Black Panther: The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas (2014), among other publications.
Colette Gaiter; The Art of Liberation: Emory Douglas and the Black Panther Artists in 1968. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 July 2020; 119 (3): 567–586. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-8601422
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