Print Media - Zine
This zine was created in response to the false narratives often spread about Black civil rights leaders through the media and our government. This piece is meant to educate and re-educate readers that have some to no knowledge about Huey Newton, Bobby Seale and the Black Panther Party. Much of the information that has been distributed about the Black Panthers, Seale and Newton has been a demonization constructed by the US government and journalistic agencies. Prior the FBI successfully infiltrating and tearing apart the Black Panthers from the inside, the government labeled them as violent, disruptive, and aggressive and continued this lie for decades after. This is why many students never learn in school that their free lunch program was created by the Black Panthers and was eventually implemented all over the country with no credit given where is was due. They had many social services that they created to help black, poor and minority communities and they actively patrolled areas that were disproportionally harassed by police in order to protect black folks from unjust treatment and harm. This little zine is only the tip of the iceberg though, and encourages readers to look deeper and do their own reading by offering a 'further reading' page that features the works of Huey Newton. Hopefully by reading this zine, folks can begin uncovering the truth about the Black Panther Party, what they stood for, and the brothers and sisters that founded it.
The inspiration for the cover was an iconic photo (to the right) of Huey Newton originally seen on a poster created by the Black Panthers in 1967. This powerful image is described by Anna Gedal, of New York Historical Society, as "The photo at once mocks Western colonialist portraiture—the zebra rug, the unambiguously “tribal” props in the background, but this stops at Newton. And it is with him that this photo turns the genre’s stereotype on its head. Newton is not an object controlled by Western colonists: he is a crusader against it. Newton is ferocious. Newton is a warrior. In this portrait, he acknowledges the centuries-long history of colonialism and threatens to break down the system itself". Newton and the Panthers often challenged the oppression of police and the footer of the original poster warned "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.” It's eery to read now due to the continued persecution of black people, especially black men, by police in America.
There's a lot of symbolism in the cover that connects to police brutality, wrongful imprisonment of black men, and the misconceptions surrounding Newton. This is done thru removing the decor and replacing the background with prison bars (alluding to Newton's 2-year wrongful imprisonment at which time the slogan "Free Huey" was created) and also his imprisonment in history's false portrayal as an aggressor, murderer and domestic terrorist. I also decided not to feature his face and instead cut it out entirely to allow the red to show through as a creative device that communicated a feeling of death, violence, passion, strength, and power.