The Art of the Black Panthers

Friday 23 October 2015

I hated history at school, largely down to being terrified of my teacher and insistent on doing Geography in order to do something 'different' from my family of history buffs. However, nearly a decade on I firmly believe history should be taught throughout school, even after we make our subject choices. Frankly, we need to educate people about what's gone on recently in the world, and to remind us all how much has changed in the last few decades (and how much still needs to). The legacy of colonialism and slavery is very much alive and kicking, but seems noticeably glossed over in schools: I'm pretty sure I just had 'Egyptians, Romans, Tudors' on repeat throughout my education. 

The Black Panthers were incredibly influential and controversial in US politics in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They held in their sights police brutality and racism against black Americans; issues which sadly still very much remain in contemporary society. Programs such as theirs giving free breakfasts fed children at a time where many of their families couldn't afford to: black people were three times as likely to live in poverty. Today, these figures shamefully remain nearly the same, and the racial wealth gap has tripled from 1984 to 2009. Emory Douglas was the official artist of the party, and his work remains revolutionary and immediately recognisable. Whilst incarcerated as a teenager, he worked in the prison's print shop - and ended up studying as one of two black students at San Francisco City College. I found this short documentary by Dress Code absolutely fascinating; it gives a great insight into the Douglas' history, the art of what he describes as a 'culture of resistance' and his work with the Panthers. It's beautifully put together and absolutely worth watching.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting character of captain America civil war is Black Panther