“Their Democracy”: Soviet Anti-Racist Political Caricatures

The Wende Museum
The Armory, Culver City, California
May 16 - October 17, 2021

In the 1960s, as decolonization took place across the African continent and the civil rights movement heated up in the United States, Soviet political caricaturists published numerous anti-racist cartoons that captured these global events. This exhibition will feature a selection of these caricatures from the Ne boltai! poster archive in Prague, including original drawings by prominent Soviet caricaturists such as Boris Efimov, the principal political caricaturist for Izvestiia, and Mark Abramov, the principal political caricaturist for Pravda. As the exhibition makes clear, Soviet propagandists paid careful attention to the institutional racism in Western countries and the struggle for civil rights in America and Africa. In these Soviet cartoons, the heroes are Black Panthers and anti-colonial freedom fighters, while the KKK and American policemen are the villains. Their Democracy,” as Boris Efimov entitled one of his works, proved to be a sham, resting on an undemocratic foundation, a depiction that helped to bolster the USSR’s image among newly independent African states.