Emory Douglas comes to Macomb to showcase his artwork to students
Issue date: 12/7/09
Emory Douglas, a member of the Black Panther Party and renowned
visual artist, shared over 50 pieces of art and explained his
inspiration to students, faculty and Macomb residents in a discussion
that lasted close to two hours, Thursday, Dec. 3.
Douglas spoke about some of the injustices faced by the members of
the Black Panther Party while referencing his inspiration behind the
piece "Pigs Run Amok."
"They went to Bobby Seale's house, the co-founder of the Black
Panther Party, and they did the same identical thing, kicked in his
door without a search warrant," Douglas said. "They'd had a search
warrant, that's legal, we got no problem they could come into the
house because it was legal. But after that we said that we would no
longer allow that to happen."
"So Eldridge Cleaver wrote up executive mandate number three in
conjunction with Bobby and Huey (P. Newton) and that was what it
said, that we would no longer allow police to come and kick in our
doors without a search warrant," Douglas said.
"If they had a search warrant then it was legal but if they didn't
then we would defend ourselves at our doorsteps.
"We referred to the Al Capone gang in Chicago who dressed up like
police and went across town and slaughtered the other gang because
they thought they were the real police.
"So we said, 'we don't know if you are the police or not kicking in
our door without a search warrant.'"
Douglas also spoke frequently about individuals known as "agent
provocateurs." According to Douglas, these were petty criminals who
made deals with law enforcement. In exchange for infiltrating the
Black Panther Party and helping to discredit them, charges leveled
against the agent would be lessened or dropped.
"A guy named O'Neil stole a car, took it across state lines, the FBI
made a deal with him that if he infiltrates the Black Panther Party
they wouldn't send him to prison," Douglas said. "He was the one who
sent up the whole thing in relation to Mark Clark and Fred Hampton
being murdered in 1969."
Douglas also spoke about the Black Panthers' social programs. The
Panthers created both free breakfast programs and free clothing
programs to support the African American community.
At the presentation's conclusion, Douglas answered questions from the
audience ranging from how he developed his art style to his views on
the political awareness of the black community today.
"It's been bankrupt in some ways, and it's all by design. What they
did is they just opened up the door a little bit to the middle class
so they could shift the resistance and protesting just enough to
throw it off," Douglas said. "Of course there are people like that
all across the country, of all colors, who are challenging the system
right today, but it's just not connected. Everywhere I go you got
young people who are inspired to want to do social commentary, spoken
word, artwork, there is just no connection. We (the Black Panthers)
were just at the right place, at the right time, for the right reasons."