Each academic year, the RISD community works together to host a series of special events honoring the life and contributions made by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in creating a more just and democratic society. Through talks and workshops led by leading advocates for justice, the inspiring series provides members of the RISD community and the larger public with meaningful opportunities for service, reflection and personal development.

Emory Douglas | 2017 keynote | Friday, January 20

An artist, educator and human rights activist, Emory Douglas served as the Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party from 1967-80. Best known for his political drawings and cartoons in the Black Panther Newspaper, he articulated the injustices experienced by African Americans living in the inner city, the growing militancy and organization among urban black youth in the face of police violence and the need for community-based social programs. His use of rich colors, dark edging and photos of everyday black people to make collages created an authentic style that expressed the ideological platform of the Black Panthers and the heightened community consciousness of Black Power as a political concept. The book Black Panther: The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas presents a collection of his work.

Douglas also worked as a layout artist and graphic designer for the San Francisco-based Sun Reporter Publishing Company for 21 years before retiring in 2005. Still based in San Francisco, he continues to work with many community-based organizations and dedicates his artwork to issues of social justice and health.

All 2016-17 MLK events

Wednesday, October 12 | Diversity Fellows! | Issues-based Investigations of Culture and Community, workshops for students, 5:30–8:30 pm

Thursday, January 12 | ISMS: Exploring the Intersectionality of Identity | campus-wide exhibition
Saturday, January 14 | MLK celebration dinner, 5-6:30 pm
Saturday, January 14 | MLK celebration concert, 6:30–8 pm
Monday, January 16 | MLK Day of Service, 8:30 am– 2:30 pm
Thursday, January 19 | ISMS: A Conversation about Identity | panel discussion w/Emory Douglas
Friday, January 20 | Emory Douglas | MLK keynote address, 7–9 pm

More about the MLK Series

The MLK keynote address serves as the centerpiece of the MLK Series and aims to highlight the role of creative endeavor in advancing democracy and equity. The lecture honors the vast contributions of Dr. King toward creating a more just and democratic society and acknowledges an individual whose legacy of service and commitment to justice has made an indelible difference.

Past MLK honorees and keynote speakers include ambassador and diplomat Andrew Young (2016), artist Faith Ringgold (2016), actor / humanitarian Danny Glover (2015), children’s advocate Marian Wright Edelman (2014), artist / activist Harry Belafonte (2013), writer/activist Angela Davis (2012), nonviolence strategist Dr. Bernard Lafayette (2006), and scholar Bakari Kitwana (2005).