Section One

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Huey Newton Minister of Defence
Huey Newton
Unidentified artist, 1968

When organizers of the Black Panther Party set up this scene for a photographer in 1967—enthroning the young “minister of defence” Huey Newton in a wicker chair and surrounding him with a spear, a gun, an animal pelt, and African shields—they hoped to produce a visual emblem of the movement for the second issue of their newspaper.

But the photograph became a more potent and far-reaching symbol of radical protest than anyone could have guessed. It was published in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and elsewhere. When Newton was wounded and arrested during a traffic-stop altercation and subsequently convicted of killing the policeman, supporters rallied to get him out of jail. The “Free Huey” movement, adopted by many on the radical left, got international exposure. Protestors carried this photographic poster during massive rallies and displayed it as a symbol of leftist political sympathies.”