Saturday, April 25, 2009

Emory Douglas talk

We had a special presentation today in First Exposures with Emory Douglas, the minister of culture for the Black Panther Party from 1967 until Party's collapse in 1980.

Emory Douglas

He went through loads of his images and explained the events that inspired them. While I think the main point of the talk was for him to describe some of his artistic techniques, it turned out to be quite an awesome history lesson on the Black Panther Party. Mr. Douglas still seems quite passionate about the survival programs of the Party (he talked a lot about the free health clinics, clothing and food distribution, education, and the Free Breakfast for School Children Program).

He did, however, touch on some of the more political and violent aspects of the Party, which I think was inevitable given the nature of some of his images:

images via Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles exhibit, "Black Panther: The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas"

I think most of the students and mentors enjoyed the presentation, although some seemed a little fidgety at the end (including me; it *had* been about 90 minutes from start to finish). Quite a few students hung out to ask him questions afterwards, which was really great. He seemed to really enjoy speaking with them and sharing, and really listened to their stories about how maybe things hadn't changed that much in Oakland (which might be the most sobering thing in the end - that all the work and struggle that he and his friends went through may have resulted in very little transformation in that community).

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