Battle Fatigue

Door: Emory Douglas.

One of the first things Emory Douglas had to do in his new job in January 1967 was to draw the pig. “Huey and Bobby would come over after organising in the evenings and they would talk about the pig – how they defined the police as pigs.”

That’s Huey Newton and Bobby Seale who had just founded the Black Panther Party in October 1966 in Oakland, California. Douglas, then a 23-year-old commercial art student, was doing his best to take the idea on board. “This is all new to me. I’m a new kid on the block. This is on-the-job learning. I’m listening and trying to figure out how I could express in art form what was requested of me. My whole experience was interpreting what was being projected and articulated verbally.”

When he talks it’s a mix of street and artspeak. Cool. Verydown. What was being projected was point No 7 of the BlackPanther’s Ten Point Programme – “an immediate end to policebrutality and murder of black people.” It was a programme born out of socialist and communist doctrines mixed with black nationalism, militant posture and plenty of provocative rhetoric.”