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San Francisco’s Letterform Archive Presents “A Conversation with Emory Douglas”

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San Francisco’s Letterform Archive Presents “A Conversation with Emory Douglas”

Thursday, August 27 – 12pm (Pacific Time)
Online Event via Zoom

Legendary Minister of Culture for Black Panthers in Rare Live Conversation

12 August 2020 — San Francisco, CA: In 1968, what would become an iconic communications vehicle for communities of color and the disenfranchised was born in the Bay Area.  The Black Pantherwould go on to influence activism, artists and political discourse for decades to come. Now, 50 years later in another tumultuous year of racial and societal reckoning San Francisco’s nonprofit Letterform Archive offers a rare opportunity to speak and interact live with the newspaper’s designer and artistic guiding force Emory Douglas. The online “Zoom” discussion will take place on Thursday, August 27 at 12pm Pacific Time via registration at 

“There has always been a level of serendipity to the work we do,” says Rob Saunders, founder and executive director of Letterform Archive. “This most significant of summers in two generations has brought Black Lives Matter to the forefront, a perfect opportunity for us to speak with, and learn from, one of the giants of graphic activism, Emory Douglas.”A  Bay Area legend and Minister of Culture for the Black Panther party from 1967 to the early 1980s, Douglas chronicled his community’s response to policy brutality, racism, and economic injustice through his artwork for The Black Panther.  Letterform Archives holds over 100 issues of the newspaper. The presentation will show original prints of Douglas’s posters and covers while he describes his creative process, his experience with the Black Panthers, and how this work relates to today’s movements for social justice.“Our work has always been about expanding education through graphics and printed art,” said Stephen Coles, Associate Curator and Editorial Director at San Francisco’s Letterform Archive, who will moderate the interview. “The San Francisco Bay Area has always been a beacon for the alternative press.  It is hard to over-estimate the impact of Douglas’ work, and the Black Panther, on activist media.”

Letterform Archive’s Salon Series is a monthly event featuring a member of the staff — or a guest expert — taking a deeper dive into specific collections or themes within the Archive. Salons feature a live overhead camera so our audience can experience the objects as they would in person. 

“It’s a unique chance to discuss the work we love while showing the objects themselves,” says Saunders, noting that salon video recordings are available to Letterform Archive members.

Emory Douglas was born May 24, 1943 in Grand Rapids, Michigan but grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area.  As the Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party from 1967 until the Party disbanded in the 1980s, Douglas’ graphic art was featured in most issues of The Black Panthernewspaper which had a peak circulation of 139,000 per week in 1970.  As the art director, designer, and main illustrator for The Black Panther, Douglas created images that became icons, representing black American struggles during the 1960s and 1970s. In later years, Douglas contributed to a number of publications including the respected African American community newspaper The San Francisco Sun Reporter. Now retired, Douglas still works on freelance projects of importance discussing topics such as black on black crime and the prison industrial complex. 

During its five-year history, Letterform Archive has welcomed over 10,000 visitors from 30 countries, including students, practitioners, and letterform admirers from every creative background. Later this year, the Archive will move into a new, expanded building, providing more hands-on access, when such access is once again available. Meanwhile, the organization is offering many workshops, lectures, and other programs online at