Item #8056 Black Panther Party Platform and Program What We Want What We Believe.

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Black Panther Party Platform and Program What We Want What We Believe.

[Toronto: Rochdale College, Coach House Press, ca. 1970?]. Poster, 22.125” x 17.125”. CONDITION: Very good, slight greenish discoloration to upper left corner, marginal loss to upper right.

This poster collages the Black Panther’s ten-part “Platform and Program” (1966) with the well known striking photo of rifle-wielding Minister of Defense Huey Newton; extracts from Edridge Cleaver’s Soul on Ice (composed in prison in 1965, published in 1968) and Thomas Merton’s Seven Story Mountain (in which he recounts his first visit to the Friendship House in Harlem); photos of marches, speeches, and arrests (including two Black Panthers held by white officers after the force’s violent SWAT raid in 1969); various graphics (including a courtroom sketch of Bobby Seale, bound and gagged at his 1969 trial, and a drawing of a fanged pig-man demanding rent from a poor Black mother on the stoop of a broken down house, surrounded by rats, and captioned with the fourth point of the Black Panther Party Platform: “We want decent housing, fit for shelter of human beings,” and more.

We acquired this poster from a source in Toronto, where it was probably published. Influenced by the American movement as well as by individual activists from the U.S. who came to live in Canada in the 1960s, the Canadian Black Power movement was active in the 1960s and ‘70s. In Toronto, the Afro-American Progressive Association and the Black Liberation Front of Canada (BLFC) hosted Black Panthers and other U.S. activists for teach-ins, solidarity rallies, and other events. Several seminars were held at Rochdale College, Toronto’s short-lived but famous student-run educational and housing cooperative, which was founded in 1968 and shut down in 1974. This poster was likely published as part of joint Rochdale-Black Power actions, perhaps by the Coach House Press, which remains a leading independent publisher in Canada, and was then under the editorship of Victor Coleman and closely affiliated with the college. The press conducted workshops for students and printed avant-garde ephemera, small literary magazines, books, posters, and even blotter paper for Rochdale’s LSD.

REFERENCES: Black Liberation News Vol. 1, No. 2, 1969, pictured at the University of Toronto Libraries online; “Coach House Press (1965–1975),” Library and Archives Canada online; Harris, Christopher. “Canadian Black Power, Organic Intellectuals, and the War of Position in Toronto 1967–1975,” The CLR James Journal, Vol. 20, No. 1/2 (2014).

Item #8056

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