Back in black
Point one of the Black Panther Party’s Ten Point Platform, from 1966, equates freedom with power. “WE BELIEVE,” it reads, “that black people will not be free until we are able to determine our destiny.” Encoded in that basic, inalienable idea was an outcry against its persistent oppression—a potent mixture of rage, desperate exhaustion and invigorating righteousness that four decades ago combined to make history, sometimes violently. Now, to many, that era’s legacy is dimly remembered but still potent, like a hot ember buried in a pile of ashes.
It’s glowing again at KINKS International, at 629 15th Street, where, through September 15, Sacramento’s It’s About Time Committee exhibits graphics and visual artwork from the Black Panther Party newspapers. The collection spans the turbulent years of 1968 through 1974, limning the papers’ efforts to chronicle, clarify, defend and incite the party’s struggle. It also reminds us that, for better and worse, not all the action was in Oakland.
An opening reception, Saturday at 6 p.m., includes appearances by one of the original Panthers, Elbert “Big Man” Howard, who will be signing his new book, Panther On The Prowl, and by Emory Douglas, the Revolutionary Artist (that’s a job description, not an aggrandizing editorial pronouncement) and the party’s former minister of culture, whose artwork this exhibit features.
“The ghetto itself is the gallery for the Revolutionary Artist’s drawings,” Douglas wrote in his “1968 Position Paper # 1 on Revolutionary Art.” “The Revolutionary Artist cuts through the smokescreens of the oppressor and creates brand new images of Revolutionary action—for the total community.” What serious-minded, destiny-determining newspaper couldn’t get behind that? For more information, visit www.itsabouttimebpp.com.