A riot is the language of the unheard.
—Martin Luther King Jr., epigraph of Riot

A poem in three parts, Riot, like 1968’s In the Mecca, is more experimental and directly political than Brooks’s early work. Allah Shango, the frontispiece by AfriCOBRA cofounder Jeff Donaldson, shows two young men behind a sheet of glass. One holds a long African statuette and seems poised to smash it through the invisible barrier at any moment. The text of Riot announces that young Black people are prepared literally to fight back against oppression. Its design was meant to unsettle any White audiences and proclaim Black cultural authority.

Gwendolyn Brooks (1917–2000)
Frontispiece by Jeff Donaldson (1932–2004)
Detroit: Broadside Press, 1970
Purchased on the Edwin V. Erbe Jr. Acquisitions Fund, 2020; PML 198520
The Estate of Jeff Donaldson, courtesy of Kravets Wehby Gallery, New York. © Broadside Lotus Press