“My art is about enlightening and informing people about issues. … We were creating the culture—the culture of resistance, the culture of defiance, the culture of self-determination.”
So are the words of Emory Douglas, who served as the Revolutionary Artist and Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party from 1967 until the Party disbanded in the 1980s.
As the art director, designer, and main illustrator for The Black Panther newspaper, Douglas created images that became iconic in representing black American struggles during the 1960s and 1970s. Using inexpensive and easily available means of commercial art production—such as mimeographs, photostats, prefabricated press types and screen tones, along with offset printing for the newspaper—he turned his artwork into a powerful visual messages for the Party.
Picked up by The Atlantic for their curated showcase of short films, New York City-based commercial production company, Dress Code was commissioned by the AIGA to create a short documentary on Douglas, his career, and the impact of his art on the civil rights movement.
Now retired and in his 60s, Douglas continues to work as a graphic artist lending his talent to social and political issues. ‘“It’s an ongoing process, always changing and evolving, like life. We have to overcome the obstacles and rise up to the challenges,” says Douglas of what he has learned from a lifetime in graphic arts. Asked what he wants to do next, Douglas replies, “To continue to inform and educate through my work. It’s an ongoing adventure.”’