Printed broadside, 23 x 35 in., featuring Huey Newton seated in a large wicker chair, holding a rifle in one hand and a spear in the other, wearing a black leather jacket and a beret. Emeryville, CA: Black Panther Party for Self Defence, n.d., ca 1968. African American activist and co-founder of the Black Panther Party, Huey Newton (1942-1989), looks iconic in this rare lithographed poster, with a commanding posture and humorless gaze. His wicker chair rests upon a zebra hide rug, with a pile of shotgun shells to the left, and African artifacts, including Zulu shields, arranged on either side. Quotation in bottom margin at left reads, "'The racist dog policemen must withdraw immediately from our communities, cease their wanton murder and brutality and torture of black people, or face the wrath of the armed people.' / Huey P. Newton, Minister of Defence." Black Panther Party logo is featured in bottom margin at center.
Huey Percy Newton (1942-1989) was a key African American activist and co-founder of the Black Panther Party. Growing up in Oakland, California, Newton had multiple run-ins with the law, being arrested for gun possession, vandalism, and other crimes as a teenager. Despite this criminal reputation and a poor academic record, Newton seemingly came into his own after high school, while he attended Merritt College in Oakland. He studied the works of Frantz Fanon, Malcom X, James Baldwin, Mao Zedong, Karl Marx, Che Guevara, and others, learning new ways to express the injustices he had always observed as a poor African American youth. He got involved in the Afro-American Association, the Beta Tau Chapter of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, and worked to install an African American history course at the school. Also at Merritt, Newton became friends with Bobby Seale, together with whom he co-founded the Black Panther Party for Self Defense in October of 1966. Operating under the belief that the African American working class needed more power over their surrounding institutions, the Black Panther Party was intended to help African Americans gain more control over their circumstances and the fate of their community.
One of the strategies applied by the Black Panther Party was monitoring police activity within their community while armed. Though legal, these patrols increased tensions, and in some cases, led to disaster. In 1967, Newton was arrested in a fatal shootout with Oakland police officers. He was convicted of involuntary manslaughter of Officer John Frey in 1968, and spent two years in prison before having the decision reversed, the case retried, and eventually the charges dismissed.
Newton remained an important figure in the Civil Rights movement and the Black Panther Party, though he had multiple other serious run-ins with the law up until his death in 1989. Newton maintained his fame and influence by visiting China to meet with several world leaders, earning a Ph.D. in Social Philosophy from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and even leading a purge of certain Party members like Eldridge Cleaver, creating a large rift among supporters. Newton's death was as controversial as his life, involving a drug buy in West Oakland neighborhood of Lower Bottoms. His funeral was held at Allen Temple Baptist Church, and drew nearly 2000 attendees to celebrate a man who accomplished much for the African American community at large.
Some spots of discoloration toward bottom of poster.
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