Printed poster, 22.5 x 28.5 in. Political Prisoners of USA Fascism. San Francisco: Ministry of Information, Black Panther Party, n.d., ca 1965-1980. Poster labels (in black and blue block letters) portraits of "Bobby" Seale holding a pistol and "Huey" Newton wearing a bandolier and holding a shotgun. Black Panther Party logo is featured in bottom margin at center.
Robert George "Bobby" Seale (b. 1936) and Huey Percy Newton (1942-1989) co-founded the Black Panther Party for Self Defense in 1966, after meeting and becoming co-activists in the Afro-American Association at Merritt College in Oakland, CA. Seale served as Chairman of the Party and Newton served as Minister of Defense. The founders authored doctrines outlining the practical goals and philosophies of the Party, including "What We Want Now!" and "What We Believe." Both Seale and Newton endured arrests, trials, and jail sentences throughout their activist careers, many of which were controversial due to things like insufficient evidence and/or rights violations.
One of Newton's most infamous arrests took place in 1967 after a fatal shootout with Oakland police officers at which Newton was present. He was convicted of involuntary manslaughter of Officer John Frey in 1968, and spent two years in prison before the decision was reversed, the case was retried, and (after multiple hung juries) the charges were dismissed.
Seale had a similarly provocative brush with the justice system when he was arrested and tried for his alleged involvement in a conspiracy to incite a riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Having already been denied a delay in his trial, Seale was also refused the ability to represent himself in court. When he protested this injustice, Judge Julius Hoffman ordered Seale to be bound and gagged, and eventually sentenced him to four years in jail for contempt of court. While in prison, Seale was also tried for the murder of fellow Party member Alex Rackney (an alleged police informant) and implicated in the murder of fellow Party member Fred Bennett (who allegedly fathered a child with Searle's wife).
The imprisonment of these two prominent activists sparked outrage, channeled into movements like "Free Huey," begun by Black Panther Party member Eldridge Cleaver, and protest posters such as the one featured here. Perhaps Bobby Seale outlined their perception of the injustice most clearly in his quotation: "To be a Revolutionary is to be an enemy of the state. To be arrested for this struggle is to be a Political Prisoner."
Light discoloration at edges and minor creases throughout. Otherwise poster is in fine condition.
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