Black History Month Magazines: The Black Panther

Not really a magazine, it was a weekly newspaper published by the Black Panther Party from 1967-80. Art directed by Revolutionary Artist and Minister of Culture Emory Douglas, The Black Panther covers were a combination of Douglas’s own powerful illustration, collage, high-contrast photographs, and poster-like graphics.

Many of these covers are courtesy of Babylon Falling and Emory Douglas Art, both great resources for The Black Panter covers, inside pages, posters, and graphics.


Emory Douglas worked as the Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party from 1967 until the Party disbanded in the 1980s. His graphic art was featured in most issues of the newspaper The Black Panther (which had a peak circulation of 139,000 per week in 1970)[1] and has become an iconic representation of the struggles of the Party during the 1960s and 70s. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Douglas “branded the militant-chic Panther image decades before the concept became commonplace. He used the newspaper’s popularity to incite the disenfranchised to action, portraying the poor with genuine empathy, not as victims but as outraged, unapologetic and ready for a fight.”[2]

As a teenager, Douglas was incarcerated at the Youth Training School in Ontario, California; during his time there he worked in the prison’s printing shop. He later studied commercial art at San Francisco City College.

Also see:

Emory Douglas

–  Video: Emory Douglas and the art of the Black Panther Party


Some more amazing artwork by Emory Douglas, the Black Panther Party Minister for Culture. 

Douglas, responsible for much of the iconic imagery of the Black Panther Party is confirmed to speak at Marxism 2015. He will be speaking on ‘Revolution, Art and Power’ at 1pm on the Friday of Marxism 2015. There will also be an exhibition of his work at the conference. This is some good news if you’re an artist, graphic designer or a general lefty.  Douglas is one of the most influential and culturally significant artists of the 20th century, so it’s exciting that he’ll be speaking about his art in Australia. Marxism Conference takes place over Easter in Melbourne, so block those four days out in your calendar. Tickets are available from the website now: www.marxismconference.org

Revolutionary Student, Emory Douglas, c.1970.

From the Victoria and Albert Museum: “The Black Panther Party was a militant civil rights group. Its initial purpose was the patrolling of black ghettos to protect residents from police brutality. The carrying of guns was integral to this policy of self-defence and symbolic of it. The Party also urged the black community to be self-reliant and advocated the teaching of Black History. Emory Douglas (the Panther’s Minister for Culture) fuses these principles in this poster. The revolutionary student wears non-American dress and carries a Black Studies book along with the trademark firearm.”


Black Panther: The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas

External image
 by Emory Douglas and edited by Sam Durant

The Black Panther Party for Self Defense, formed in the aftermath of the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965, remains one of the most controversial movements of the 20th-century. Founded by the charismatic Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, the party sounded a defiant cry for an end to the institutionalized subjugation of African Americans. The Black Panther newspaper was founded to articulate the party’s message and artist Emory Douglas became the paper’s art director and later the party’s Minister of Culture.

Douglas’s artistic talents and experience proved a powerful combination: his striking collages of photographs and his own drawings combined to create some of the era’s most iconic images, like that of Newton with his signature beret and large gun set against a background of a blood-red star, which could be found blanketing neighborhoods during the 12 years the paper existed.This landmark book brings together a remarkable lineup of party insiders who detail the crafting of the party’s visual identity.


As you scroll the pixels of your timeline consider reflecting on the tactile, ephemeral, visual communication that gave birth to the social movements of the 1960′s and 70′s. Emory Douglas, the definitive visual communicator for the Panthers, shares his thoughts on what their movement faced then, and parallels that young people are faced with today.