July 21, 2011
Art History 1B
Contextualization: Huey P. Newton and Sam Durant Era
As an artist, Sam Durant was widely inspired by the political, social, and cultural issues of the world and in this piece that he created was inspired by Huey P. Newton himself and Blank Panther Party that was located in Oakland, CA. The Black Panther Party was founded by Newton and Bobby Seale and began in Oakland, CA around October 1966. During the 1960’s of California, there was a wide range of protests and civil rights movements throughout the region of the state and the United States. Some of the remember-able protests are Mario Savio and UC Berkeley, People’s Park Protest, and Cesar Chavez. This party was very deeply rooted with the practices of Malcolm X. Malcolm X was an inspiration to the party because he had represented both a militant revolutionary, with the dignity and self-respect to stand up and fight to win equality for all oppressed minorities; while also being role model, something the Black Panthers would take to new heights. The Panther Party did such services as the Panther’s Free Breakfast for School Children Program, by the end of the year the program had fed 10,000 children everyday before they went to school.
What inspired Durant to create this well known chair was when after Newton had been hospitalized after an exchange of gun fire shots between the Panthers and policeman, he was arrested and accused of killing a police officer. The following year, he was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter. During this time of his trial and sentence, Durant started work on this chair as an ode to Newton and it s now placed in the Oakland Museum of California which is right across the street from where Newton was found guilty.