Another painting emanating out of the spirit of the age was “Meaningful Dialogue.”  The phrase was
    always used by politicians, and the media, to explain the outcome of interactions between opposing
    factions.  “There was “meaningful dialogue....” some news reporter would say.  Huey P. Newton, also,
    spoke to rousing crowds on two separate occasions at the Chicago Coliseum and the Afro Arts
    Theater.  The image of a larger than life,  rifle wielding Huey Newton with, his trade mark black beret
    and black leather jacket,  flashed in the news media numerous times and  overwhelmed nearly every
    aspect of the larger, less provocative, more positive message of the Black Panther party, which was
    advancing empowerment and community responsibility.   But, there he was, the iconic, archetypal
    image of the urban revolutionary warrior,  recognizable in the same way that  Emiiano Zapata and
    Che Guevara were, and meeting a similar fate.  That painting was one of three attempts ("Pantera
    Negro" and "Panthers and Pigs") to embody the kind of rage at the dichotomy of life as an African-
    American that could tempt someone to want to take up arms and strike out at the injustices hoisted
    upon people wanting to do positive things,  but  who were seen,at the flick of a switch as a suspect
    first - as when cops stop a young man on the street because he looks like the guy seen a month ago
    carrying a blue steel revolver (the further implication being that he may as well have been that
    person, therefore requiring humiliation) and oh, by the way reminding him that they are there to
    serve and protect him - or as a victim of someone else's mis-directed rage, and needing to be
    relieved of something valuable.  When thinking of Black experientialism, then, rage rated high on the
    list among things to control with as long a fuse as possible in order to survive.  The Black Panther
    was emblematic of that rage.  

    AFRICOBRA has been a work in progress for all of it's history despite its having been in the public
    eye with numerous exhibitions,  its having generated uncommon interest in the art community, and its
    having had varying degrees of inspiration on some artists working during that age.   There was never
    any formal, organizational structure.  It was not intended to be a club or fraternity.  There were no
    officers or leader outside of the de facto position that Jeff had as visionary and spokesperson, and
    my role as keeper of the treasury and the one keeping the lines of communication open between the
    members, and with outside parties.   There was always the matter of who is or is not a member, or
    who could or could not become a member, and what is and is not an AFRICOBRA work of art, or
    even a rational way to include others in the experience who wished to be.  Some will suggest, even,
    that AFRICOBRA died a long time ago and that what exists today is living, frankly, off of the
    afterburner fumes of past history without forging any identity of it's own.   Nevertheless, everyone
    who has been a part of the  AFRICOBRA has, and always has had a life of their own, with individual
    aspirations, whether or not they attempted to enlarge upon, or expand the basic principles and
    identity that the five founders felt important enough to work hard to establish.  Lessons learned by
    the AFRICOBRA experience, most particularly in it's seminal years, is that everyone has his and her
    individualism, which when put in the service of a collective aspiration can accomplish more than might
    be gained by any one individual.  At any rate each of us advanced greatly from the points that we
    started from when we came together.

    The works of mine presented here are some of those produced during the prime of AFRICOBRA,
    when we were a laboratory, experimenting with different techniques, scrubbing and scrutinizing
    aesthetic principles, scanning the social and political landscape for salient subjects, genuinely
    fostering the idea of a communalistic pot, and feeling that, as artists, honestly attempting to make a
    contribution to the reservoir of ideas that might inspire, stimulate, uplift, and promote discourse in the
    public at large, and to share a vision within the art community, in particular.    One of our realized
    goals was making prints to sell to generate income, but more importantly, to make the work available
    to more people in the community at a low cost.  One work by each person was selected in a
    preferential poll taken of visitors to the exhibit in the Studio Museum in Harlem.  “Wake Up”  was the
    painting of mine that was selected to be reproduced, although the resulting silkscreen print was not
    an exact duplicate. As to the subject?  Who hasn't been confronted on the street by someone
    wanting to hand you a flyer of some sort to throw in the trash?  The man in the picture holds a flyer
    that was handed to me one day by a brother at a rally.  It bore an interesting subject to be taken with
    a grain of salt by sober minds, but in the social and political climate of the day, it entertained a world
    of possibilities.  

    The  "King Alfred Plan"  was the purported secret plot by authorities to surround the ghetto with
    barbed wire in the event of massive riots, thus making them instant concentration camps. Given the
    vagaries of the way history has unfolded through time, such a possibility may never be totally
    discarded. One never knows does one?  The “plot” has long ago been debunked, but it resurfaces
    again from time to time for other active imaginations to contemplate.  Other works appearing here
    were completed at various times since then, and up to the time that I returned to the United States in
    1980 after a two year period of service in the Peace Corps in Kenya, followed by travel in other
    parts of Africa.

    Gerald Williams
    January 2010