DEI Office Brings Famed Photojournalist Brian Shih’s Black Panther Exhibit to Campus for MLK Day

Famed photojournalist Brian Shih’s “Black Panthers: Portraits of Unfinished Movement” exhibit was displayed in the DEI building as part of MLK Day celebrations.

The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion hosted famed photojournalist Bryan Shih’s exhibit “Black Panthers: Portraits of Unfinished Movement” as part of campus’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations.

During the walkthrough of the exhibit, students, faculty, and community members were able to view Shih’s photos of rank and file Black Panther Political Party members as well as the interviews and background of select rank and file members.

The Black Panther Party was a Marxist-Leninist Black Power political organization founded by college students Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton in October 1966.

Vice President of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion John Holloway shared one of the reasons he values the exhibit and wanted to bring it to campus.
“There is so much misinformation about the Black Panthers,” he said. “We just wanted to show the truth, but we also did not want to gloss over anything.”

Holloway and the DEI office had to select which photos from Shih’s full collection they wanted to have brought to campus. When asked how they chose the specific pictures that are featured, Holloway said, “It was very difficult, they are all so great, I finally had to throw up my hands and let them choose.”

Holloway also spoke about his favorite photo in the exhibit.
“My favorite is the one in the back of a man who was sentenced to 25-years to life,” he said. The photo that Holloway spoke about is of Jalil Mutaqim who was incarcerated as a political prisoner for killing two New York City police officers.

Freshman Ava Reynolds found the exhibit informative and enlightening.
“I thought it was a very informative exhibit that helped me learn … there were amazing people that were involved and helped shape the civil rights movement through participating in the Black Panther Party,” she said.

Participants were encouraged to further engage with how the exhibit and Black Panthers affect not only the country but their personal lives after walking through. Participants were asked questions such as “Have any of your beliefs been challenged as a result of the information presented in this exhibit?”

Participants were also given a free copy of “The Black Panthers” by Bryan Shih and Yohuru Williams. The novel provides a more in-depth discussion about the Black Panther Party and its members.

The DEI Program also hosted a movie event showing “Judas and the Black Messiah,” a film about the betrayal of Fred Hampton, who was chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party in late-1960s Chicago. This event gave students the opportunity to learn even more about the Black Panther Party.