In this public conversation, artist Dana Chandler talks with former Boston-area Black Panther Party captain Doug Miranda and Northeastern University professor Margaret A. Burnham about his work, his Black liberation activist history, and their resonances in Boston and beyond.
Artist Dana Chandler’s Fred Hampton’s Door 2 (1974) is a statement of protest against the Chicago police officers who murdered a young Black Panther, Fred Hampton, in his bed, first firing gunshots through his door. Acquired by the MFA in 2020, it is currently on view in the exhibition “New Light: Encounters and Connections” and forms part of “Black Power in Print,” a collaboration between the MFA and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Chandler’s work is a portal into a landscape of protest inside and outside the Museum.
Now 80 years old, Chandler grew up in Roxbury, attended Boston Public Schools, and frequently visited the MFA. In 1967, he witnessed Boston police using violence to stop a peaceful civil rights protest, an event that triggered his commitment to the Black Power movement. As a student in the late 1960s and ’70s he led and participated in protests against the MFA due to its lack of representation of Black artists, submitting a manifesto in January 1970 to MFA director Perry T. Rathbone and the Board of Directors, which he titled “A Proposal to Eradicate Institutional Racism at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.” Chandler’s efforts, along with those of Elma Lewis, founder of Boston’s National Center of Afro-American Artists (NCAAA), and Edmund Barry Gaither, curator of the NCAAA and longtime MFA consultant, led to the landmark exhibition “Afro-American Artists: New York and Boston” at the MFA, the NCAAA, and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Spring 1970.
Dana Chandler, Boston-raised artist and activist
Doug Miranda, former Boston-area captain of the Black Panther Party
Moderated by Margaret A. Burnham, university distinguished professor of Law and director, Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project