The graphics were bold, the symbolism was strong and the messages were provocative. Emory Douglas’ graphic design work became the visual voice of movement dedicated to the fight for civil rights and social justice. As the “Minister of Culture” for the Black Panther Party, Emory Douglas used punchy printmaking to tell captivatingly strong stories that depicted the urgency and tension behind the Black Power movement.
Douglas studied graphic design while at San Francisco City College where he was one of 2 African American students in his program. He created the Black Panther Newspaper along with Eldridge Cleaver with a mission to carefully control and distribute the message of the Black Panther Party. His graphic style and ability to elicit an emotional response in the viewer were techniques that are emulated by artists like Shepard Fairey today. In 2015 Emory Douglas became an AIGA medalist recognized among design peers for his “powerful use of graphic design in the Black Panther party’s struggle for civil rights and against racism, oppression, and social injustice.”
On the power of graphic design in storytelling, Douglass believes that “art has relevancy, whether it’s to pacify you or enlighten you and inform you. It’s a language, that’s the power of it.”
The “Artist a Day Challenge” celebrates Black History Month by highlighting Black artists and diverse forms of cultural expression across the African diaspora.