Emory Douglas: My name is Emory Douglas. I was the Revolutionary Artist and the Minister of Culture of the Black Panther Party, from 1967 until 1980.
I was born in 1943 and been living in the San Francisco Bay Area most of my life. I recall my first trip to the South, with my auntie, and I remember when we went into the bus station, she said you have to use this bathroom here, had the sign saying "Negros Only." That became my first direct understanding of the racial injustice that existed.
The Black Panther Party started in October of 1966 in Oakland, California. Huey P. Newton was the co-founder and he was the Minister of Defense. Bobby Seale was the other co-founder, and he was the Chairman. I was going on patrols, observing what was taking place in the community with the police. We did not interfere with the officers who were making the arrest or harassing folks, but let those who were being arrested know that they had rights. It was very intense—no different than what you have today in relationship to police brutality and the murders always being justified.
I went to City College of San Francisco, and I took up commercial art, developing skills in figure drawings, printing, designing of publications all those things. I remember one Saturday, I seen Bobby Seale working on this legal size sheet of paper, which he said was the first issue of The Black Panther Party Newspaper. Bobby said, “Well, you've been hanging around, you seem to be committed. We're going to start the paper, and we want you to be the Revolutionary Artist.” And we would all work together to get the paper out.