black design in america

Designing Emancipation



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We offer our courses and classes at subsidized rates for students, educators, and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) individuals.

If you are interested in a scholarship, please email us at [email protected] and we will help.

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From the early 1830s to the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation outlawing slavery in 1863, Boston was the center of the American anti-slavery movement. Organizations such as the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society posted broadsides throughout the city to publicize the day’s events and advocate for the freedom of slaves. These single-sheet notices were printed in large, bold lettering and often contained quotations from the Bible, the Constitution, and the founding fathers. These sources gave legitimacy to the movement and a significant visual record of Black freedom in the Antebellum Era.

Freedom’s Journal was the first African-American owned and operated newspaper published in the United States established in 1827—the year slavery was abolished in New York State and served as a counter to the racist commentary published in the mainstream press. The Journal was founded by Rev. Peter Williams, minister of the largest predominantly Black Episcopal Church in New York City and an abolitionist. They also supported free Black emigration to Haiti. Frederick Douglass’s first abolitionist newspaper, The North Star, first published on December 3, 1847, was named after the bright star, Polaris, which helped escaped slaves to navigate the Underground Railroad. Douglass, a former slave, and freedom seeker would go on to become one of the most visible forces in the burgeoning abolitionist movement. Sojourner Truth, an illiterate but eloquent former slave, would be mentored by Douglass and go on to deliver an iconic 1851 speech entitled Ain’t I a Woman? that advocated both for racial equality and women’s suffrage. Inspired by Douglass, Truth’s photographic likeness would become a form of visual rhetoric that depicted the poise and human dignity of two superstars of the abolitionist movement.

This class is available to purchase individually, or at a discounted rate when the course pass is purchased.


  • Pierre Bowins

    Pierre Bowins specializes in graphic design, he utilize research-based theories and strategies to plan, organize, and implement lessons on the emerging trends of topics including design history, criticism, typography, and foundations of design...
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Licenses for institutional use are available and customizable to fit your needs. Contact us at [email protected] to provide your students, employees, and designers with access to our BIPOC Design History Course.

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