Angela Davis – “Power & Equality”

s-l300This is Angela Davis’s “Power and Equality” poster that she made in 1971 while she was a part of the US Communist Party. As stated by “Angela Davis is an activist, scholar and writer who advocates for the oppressed.”  Davis grew up in a time of racial prejudice in the American south and actually “knew several of the young African-American girls killed in the Birmingham church bombing of 1963” (  She was associated with the Black Panthers but spent most of her time with an all-back branch of the Communist Party called the Che-Lumumba Club. Today she works at the University of California in Santa Cruz as a professor teaching history of consciousness.

The poster is either made with a silkscreen or printmaking technique.  The poster illustrates the power of people of color, but emphasizing women of that category.  This is done by giving the woman on the poster a stern, strong, stoic face, and sharp cheekbones and jawline made from many vertical lines.  The afro around her head makes a halo effect that highlights the peace signs in the four corners and the one in her left earring.  The leaf-like designs and harmony of the goldish-beige, black, and red colors give the poster is well balanced aura.

When first glancing at the poster one’s eyes are drawn to the black halo [afro] that encircles the woman’s head.  The eyes then trail down to the bold red band at the bottom of the image with the words “Power & Equality” encased within, and then out around the afro to the leaf-like designs and phrase “Power to the People.”

The size of the afro and the women’s face symbolizes the power of those of African descent. The size and position of the large black circle also mimics the classic image of a rising or setting sun. Rising into an era of equality for all people and races, and the setting of segregation and oppression.  By making the woman’s hair and neck black, she is given a sense of authority and a commanding air.  And the near-perfect balance of the piece symbolizes the equality among the races. The woman on the poster looks to the sky as if to say “the sky is my limit and no one and nothing will stop me from reaching my goals.” Putting the band of red on the bottom gives the impression of the woman rising above the fires – literally and figuratively – caused because of inequality and segregation. Even the boarder aids to the message of the poster; the way the inner black boarder is not completely enclosed, almost as if it is breaking the restricting rules of society and pushing the boundaries.

This poster is meant to ignite passion into the hearts of anyone who has felt oppressed and wronged due to segregation, Jim Crow Laws, and anything that has made one feel small and unimportant.  Angela Davis successfully depicted power and equality in an image that is mostly basic shapes and just three colors.  – Here is the link where I found the picture.

Biography. com Editors. “Angela Davis Biography.” The A&E Television Networks, 27 May 2016. Web. 20 November 2016.


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