Learning in the Making: Revolutionary Screenprinting

Black history month may be celebrated during the month of February, but the history that Black Americans, and Black folks across the globe have made and continue to make can be celebrated all day, every day. In this episode of Learning in the Making, host Aáron heard and co-host Paula Mitchell talk Emory Douglas, the Black Panther Party’s printing press and free breakfast program, and the power of image-making. 

Black Power was a revolutionary movement that occurred in the 1960s and 1970s. It emphasized racial pride, economic empowerment, and the creation of political and cultural institutions. A key group in the Black Power movement was the Black Panther Party. The Black Panther party was founded in 1966 by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton, while young students at Merritt College. The Black Panther Party grew to have many members in many places over time. One of the members to join the party was Emory Douglas. Emory is an artist, and he brought the skill of screen printing to the Black Panther Party in the form of posters and newspaper illustrations. Emory Douglas believes that art is power. 

In what ways have you seen art be powerful?

3 Black students at Grass Valley Elementary School in Oakland, CA participate in screenprinting together.

3 Black students at Grass Valley Elementary School in Oakland, CA participate in screenprinting together. Photo courtesy of Paula Mitchell.

To make your own revolutionary screenprint, you will need: 

  • Prep & Setup: Brown Paper or Plastic sheet (to cover table) & Newspaper on tables for drying
  • Screen Materials (1 image per screen): Embroidery hoop, Mod Podge or acrylic paint (a color that you won’t be using in your printmaking), Nylon (stockings), Permanent marker, Image from the Bank of Black Power images
  • Printing Materials: 8 ½ x 11 cardstock or canvas fabric, Squeegees (old expired credit card or gift card), Ink Speedball, fabric paint, or acrylic paint – 1 color per screen (but you can get fancy & add more), Plastic spoon or craft stick, Gloves
  • Tools: Paint Brushes, Scissors, Pens, Pencils, Markers, Paper

Looking for additional inspiration? Check out these ideas:

We want to see your projects! After the livestream, we encourage you to post your revolutionary screen prints on Twitter or Instagram. Tag us @MakerEdOrg with #MakerEdAtHome and #BPPScreenPrint

Learning in the Making: LIVE! is an online video series designed to support educators and families with accessible hands-on learning experiences. This work is part of our focus on supporting remote learning in various environments. (To learn more, read this blog post about our work during shelter-in-place measures in 2020.) 

Each week, we are hosting a live making activity on our YouTube channel and sharing related resources on our blog. 

We are so excited to support hands-on learning as educators, caregivers, and young learners shift to distance learning, and we need your support! Donate today so we can keep going. 


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