Fashion and self-fashioning have remained important and highly visible aspects of organizing and movements of resistance. The power of dress to both reflect and foster a sense of empowerment can be observed throughout various moments within the history of fashion and activism. Whether it is the political use of the color black, strategically employed by the Black Panther Party in the 1960s and ‘70s, or the use of the Keffiyeh to symbolize rebellion against the imposition of Zionism in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, fashion can be used to harness, strengthen, and even organize the power of resistance. Uniforms and collective dressing, such as in the case of The Economic Freedom Fighters of South Africa, who wear head-to-toe red, can project and create solidarity amongst collectives, placing emphasis on a unified cause or a greater whole rather than any one individual. And conversely, individuals can use the power of radical or subversive personal style to resist against both interpersonal and systemic oppressions and restrictions that they may face. This week’s reading list explores five sources that discuss and showcase the influence of dress and fashion within discourses of Black resistance and activism throughout history.

Black and white photo of 5 women with their fists raised

Black Panthers from Sacramento, Free Huey Rally, Bobby Hutton Memorial Park, Oakland, Calif., No. 62, Aug. 25, 1968; printed 2010. Photograph by Pirkle Jones (NMAAHC, gift of the Pirkle Jones Foundation, ©2011 Pirkle Jones Foundation).