PBS star’s collection of propaganda posters on display at Penn Museum

Penn professor Tukufu Zuberi began collecting propaganda war posters in 2005.  Credit: Penn Museum
Penn professor Tukufu Zuberi began collecting propaganda war posters in 2005.
Credit: Penn Museum

As one of the stars of PBS’ “History Detectives,” Tukufu Zuberi has helped to unearth the stories behind a wide range of fascinating artifacts. But last fall, the show delved into an item from Zuberi’s own collection: a poster, captioned “Our Colored Heroes,” depicting an African-American soldier in World War I stabbing a German soldier, his foot resting on the chest of another fallen enemy.

That captivating image is one of 33 from Zuberi’s collection of propaganda posters on display in Penn Museum’s new exhibition “Black Bodies in Propaganda: The Art of the War Poster.” The striking posters span from the Civil War to the African independence movements of the 1960s, raising crucial questions about citizenship and combat.

“All the posters in the show reflect the heroism of individuals who fought for democracy and freedom abroad while they didn’t have it at home,” says Zuberi, professor of sociology and Africana studies at the University of Pennsylvania. “Either as colonial subjects in Africa or in the United States, where segregation ruled the day, a man could return from fighting in war and be subjected to second-class citizenship and scrutiny.”

Zuberi’s poster collection is a direct result of his work on “History Detectives,” where he constantly encounters the educational benefit of collecting. “I had come into contact with so many collectors and individuals who were doing very interesting things in trying to present history to the public,” he explains. “That made me want to develop one of my own ideas into a format that could be presented to the public in that same way.”

Many of the posters reveal the ways in which the government attempted to convince African-Americans to fight for a country that was denying them equal treatment, whether the battle was to preserve the Union or to defeat Fascism.

“Those men so believed in freedom, they so believed in justice and democracy, that they would go and fight in the international effort to preserve these things,” Zuberi says. “Being a soldier hits on the essence of citizenship — you’re going out to give the ultimate in the name of the country. So people should come away from this exhibit saying,  ‘Would I have fought as these soldiers did, knowing that I did not have freedom at home?’”

If you go

Black Bodies in Propaganda: The Art of the War Poster
Through March 2, 2014
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
3260 South St.
$8-$15, 215-898-4000
www.penn.museum



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

New Yorkers are nation's unhappiest residents: Study

New Yorkers aren't a happy bunch, at least to a new study released by a nonprofit economic research group.

News

NY judge throws out lawsuit by Empire State…

A New York state judge has thrown out a lawsuit in which longtime investors in the Empire State Building claimed they were shortchanged out of hundreds of millions of dollars…

Local

Mysterious white flags appear over Brooklyn Bridge

Two white flags mysteriously appeared over the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday in place of the American flags that are a traditional fixture.

National

Judge sets January start for murder trial of…

By Elizabeth BarberBOSTON (Reuters) - Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez will be tried in January for the murder of semi-professional football player Odin…

Movies

From 'La Femme Nikita' to 'Lucy,' a list…

French filmmaker Luc Besson has created a cottage industry of junk cinema. Here are his many unique action heroes, including Liam Neeson and "Lucy"'s Lucy.

Movies

Review: 'Lucy,' with Scarlett Johansson, is smart, stupid…

Luc Besson's "Lucy," in which Scarlett Johansson gains increased control over her brain, is a film about smart and stupid but always enjoyable.

Television

'Pretty Little Liars' recap: Season 5, Episode 7,…

Drunk girls and ghost brownies: here’s your weekly ‘Pretty Little Liars’ recap by way of Q&A. Q: do they really not check for feet under…

Arts

Don't miss 'Charles James: Beyond Fashion' at the…

Have you been meaning to see "Charles James: Beyond Fashion"? There are only two weeks left to get to the Met and catch this amazing American fashion designer's collection.

NFL

David Tyree hiring has gay rights advocates angry

Former Giants Super Bowl hero David Tyree will re-join the franchise as its new director of player development.

NFL

Ben McAdoo's new offense has Giants excited to…

Even Tom Coughlin feels he has a lot to learn about offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s new offense, which makes the veteran coach very excited.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead…

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead pack

NFL

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will…

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will win Super Bowl?

Tech

Learn Braille with these gloves

U.S. scientists have designed high-tech gloves to help users understand Braille in a matter of minutes.

Home

5 New Ikea products that will change your…

We round-up the latest must-have products.

Food

Recipe: Wolfgang Puck's Buttermilk French Toast

We recently spent some time chatting with restauranteur/celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck at his Wolfgang Puck American Grille in the Borgata in Atlantic City. Puck wanted…

Style

Go retro with your sneakers

The best of wacky new sneakers.