TV host’s Black war posters focus of Pa. exhibit

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In this Thursday, May 30, 2013 photo, University of Pennsylvania professor and PBS History Detectives host Tukufu Zuberi speaks about an Italian 1942 broadside matted on canvas by Gino Boccasile during an interview with The Associated Press at the Black Bodies in Propaganda: The Art of the War Poster exhibit at the Penn Museum, in Philadelphia. The new museum exhibition presents 33 posters owned by Zuberi that were designed to mobilize Africans and African-Americans in war efforts, even as they faced oppression and injustice in their homelands. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

 

by Joann Loviglio

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A new exhibit created by a University of Pennsylvania professor and host of a popular public television show examines how wartime propaganda has been used to motivate oppressed populations to risk their lives for homelands that considered them second-class citizens.

“Black Bodies in Propaganda: The Art of the War Poster,” opened Sunday and continues until March 2 at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Lectures, film screenings and other programming will be rolled out over the course of the exhibit’s run.

The exhibit’s 33 posters, dating from the Civil War to both World Wars and the African independence movements, are part of the personal collection of Tukufu Zuberi, Penn professor of sociology and African studies and a host of the PBS series “History Detectives.”

Zuberi began his collection in 2005 and owns 48 posters in all. There are five he’s seeking to complete his collection, but he’s not divulging any specifics.

“Oh, I don’t want to go there,” he said with a laugh. “If I say anything, then there’s going to be someone out there with more money and I won’t be able to buy anything again.”

The collection includes posters with affirming messages and images of courageous black soldiers to stir in its intended audience a sense of national belonging and patriotic pride. Also implied was a promise that blacks who served their country in war would return home to America or Europe with the rights and freedoms that their white counterparts enjoyed.

That promise, as history shows, was not kept.

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