Emory Douglas and the visual language of the Black Panther Party

Emory Douglas worked as the Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party for Self Defense from 1967 until the discontinuation of the Party in the 1980s. He’s been called the “Norman Rockwell of the ghetto”, and is known for his powerful illustrations in The Black Panther newspaper often depicting poor African Americans, most of who were aggravated, outraged, and ready for a fight. His artwork motivated disenfranchised members of the African American community to take action through his portrayals of police brutality, poverty, global imperialism, and poor living conditions.

Douglas’s use of thick bold lines, minimalist forms, and bright color inspired the trademark visual style for all of the Party’s newspapers, posters, and pamphlets, and his visuals have became one of the most poignant graphic records of the Black Panther’s legacy.