Decolonial Raised Fists
Manchester Metropolitan University
Dr Simon Faulkner
The raised fist has been central to the symbolism of countless protest movements in the last century, but it is most synonymous with anti-racism. It featured on British Black Panther posters and leaflets in the 1970s, and has been thrust into public consciousness more recently with the BLM protests of 2020. Now, the raised fist can be found stuck onto lampposts and pedestrian crossings, as well as blazoned across the internet.
But despite its visibility, there has been very little scholarship investigating why this symbol is so pervasive, and why it gives such a universal voice to protesters. For anti-racism, it is a symbol of power, of agency, and of collective will against an oppressive system that otherwise might seem insurmountable. It galvanizes, it unites, and it brings hope for change.
This thesis is based on the poster collection of the People’s History Museum in Manchester, and aims to answer the question of why the raised fist is so common and what power it truly has to bring people together against systemic racism.