Clothing Line Imagines Black Leaders as University Namesakes

By Sameer Rao Dec 10, 2015

Those of you dismayed by the backlash against university activism might wish that you’d attended an institution named after your favorite Black thinker, inventor or writer. Now, a new apparel line gives you the next best thing.

Philadelphia-based screen printing company Philadelphia Printworks just released the "School of Thought" collection, which features sweatshirts from fictional universities bearing the names of Black leaders. The company describes the inspiration behind the collection on their Facebook page

The "School of Thought" collection, designed by Mars Five and Philadelphia Printworks, imagines a different world where colleges and institutions have been established based on the philosophies of Marcus Garvey, Audre Lorde, Ida B. Wells, Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver and James Baldwin. The collection represents the double consciousness experienced by African diaspora in America and creates a safe space for the praxis of liberation. 

Designer Mars Five, whose real name is Donte Neal, elaborated in a statement emailed to Colorlines: 

From a graphic design perspective, I’ve always appreciated the visual aesthetics of universities, colleges and similar institutions. I believe we all apply and belong to our own particular schools of thought. Though sometimes multiple, conflicting or harmonious, these theoretical institutions are where we take responsibility for our own educations. Where we craft our social, political and economical morals and values. In collaboration with Philadelphia Printworks, my goal was to give these schools a manifested and wearable pride.

The company’s other products explore similar progessive and anti-racist themes, with shirts reading "Assata is Welcome Here" and "No Justice No Peace." Check out the "School of Thought" lookbook here