Public Enemy's Logo Explained

Public Enemy's Logo Explained

In the thirty years since it was created, Public Enemy's man in the crosshairs logo has become almost as memorable and iconic as Public Enemy's music. Simple yet instantly evocative, the logo perfectly encapsulates the band's image and message. Yet few people know the story behind the icon.

"1986 the construction of the logo, magic markers -white out copy machine -Exacto knife computer or Photoshop," Chuck D said on Twitter, describing how the logo was created.

Chuck D is best known for his booming voice and equally powerful lyrics, so even hardcore PE fans would be forgiven for forgetting that PE's emcee is also a graphic designer, who created the PE logo himself. Chuck, who earned a degree for design at Long Island's Adelphi University, drew the logo by hand, and the design was later tightened up by acclaimed graffiti artist Eric Haze.

A widely spread misconception about the PE logo is that the man in the crosshairs is supposed to be a police officer. In actuality, the man in the logo represents an African American B-boy, and the logo was meant to represent how blacks are seen in American society.. "The crosshairs logo symbolized the black man in America," Chuck D explained to Rolling Stone in 2014. "A lot of people thought it was a state trooper because of the hat, but the hat is one of the ones that Run-DMC wore. The B-Boy stance and the silhouette was more like the black man on the target."

The ideas behind the logo are also why Public Enemy is named Public Enemy. ”The United States Constitution once considered black people to be three-fifths of a human being," Chuck said. "If this is a public document, obviously we must be the enemy, so that’s where the name Public Enemy came from.”

By Michael Lacerna for


News 02 March 2016

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