Huey Newton’s Portraits & The Founding of the Black Panthers

New findings in our March 29 auction of Printed & Manuscript African-Americana clarify information behind iconic portraits of Black Panthers co-founder Huey P. Newton.


Poster of Huey P. Newton, signed and inscribed, circa 1967.
Estimate $4,000 to $6,000.


Ensconced in a wicker chair, holding a rifle in one hand and a spear in the other–the indelible image of the young leader continues to resonate today. The example in our upcoming auction is the only known signed copy ever offered. It reads “To Ben, with much love, Huey.” The date commonly given to the image, captioned The Racist Dog Policemen Must Withdraw Immediately from our Communities, is 1967 or ‘68; however, another photograph  of Newton taken in 1967 shows the image behind him, pushing the date of the better-known poster back to 1966-67.



Lot 113: Poster of Huey Newton in front of another poster of himself, circa 1967.
Estimate $500 to $750.


The second photograph was taken by Ted Streshinsky at the Black Panther headquarters in July 1967, two months after Newton gained national attention for walking armed into a California legislative session, and less than six months before he was arrested for the shooting of a policeman. The case was subsequently dropped, but Newton was imprisoned in October 1967 until 1970, making a 1968 date for the first photograph impossible. A campaign was launched to “free Huey,” and subsequent public pressure was, in part, responsible for the dismissal of the case.


Free Huey, silk screen poster, circa 1968.
Sold February 25, 2010, for $4,560.


The Black Panther party was formalized in Oakland in 1966 by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. The name was inspired by a political party founded the year before in Lowndes County, Alabama, whose aim was to increase voter registration among African Americans.


Black Panther ’67, cloth flag, from Lowndes County, Alabama. Sold March 21, 2013 for $43,200.


The Oakland Panthers were invested in more than voter registration. They were staunch supporters of open-carry laws, and advocated for militant defense of African-American neighborhoods. Armed members patrolled streets, as ready to protect residents from policemen as drug dealers. Newton also organized philanthropical efforts to help the community, including medical centers and a breakfast program for children.


Move On Over or We Will Move On Over You, first Black Panthers poster, circa 1966. Sold March 31, 2016 for $12,500.


The image of the panther stands in stark contrast to the mascot of the Alabama Democratic party at the time, a white rooster that symbolized white supremacy.


Group of 11 Black Panther newspapers, San Francisco, 1969-1972.
Sold March 31, 2016 for $2,250.


In the second issue of their eponymous magazine, the Panthers listed their “Ten-Point Program,” titled “What We Want Now!”:

  1. We want freedom. We want power to determine the destiny of our Black Community.
  2. We want full employment for our people.
  3. We want an end to the robbery by the Capitalists of our Black Community.
  4. We want decent housing, fit for shelter of human beings.
  5. We want education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society. We want education that teaches us our true history and our role in the present day society.
  6. We want all Black men to be exempt from military service.
  7. We want an immediate end to police brutality and murder of Black people.
  8. We want freedom for all Black men held in federal, state, county and city prisons and jails.
  9. We want all Black people when brought to trial to be tried in court by a jury of their peer group or people from their Black Communities, as defined by the Constitution of the United States.
  10. We want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice and peace.

Browse the full catalogue.