The Black Yield Brother III is the third painting in Indiana’s Yield Brother series. Throughout his career Indiana addressed contemporary political issues and supported causes he believed in. The first painting from the series, Yield Brother (1963), was painted expressly for the Bertrand Russel Peace Foundation, which held a benefit exhibition in 1963, and The Black Yield Brother III was donated to the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) for its 1964 benefit sale.
The series was inspired by yield street signs, with the colors of the third painting inspired specifically by a damaged New York traffic sign that Indiana had acquired. In these works the concept of yield, to give the right of way, is turned into a political message. Indiana explained that that he adopted “the Biblical language of Yield Brother” to address a civilization which is supposed to be governed by Christian ethics.  Yet he noted “That the countryside is peppered with ‘Yield’ sides hasn’t affected the national conscious much—particularly in our least yielding region entrenched as it is in the doctrine of White Supremacy.” 
The first painting in Indiana's Yield Brother series incorporates the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament's peace symbol, designed by Gerald Holtom in 1958. The symbol stands for "nuclear disarmament," and is based on the "N" and "D" of the semaphore alphabet used by sailors to communicate from a distance with flags. The other works in the series, including The Black Yield Brother III, incorporate only the central element of the symbol, the vertical line which represents "D," and stands for "disarmament."
 Richard Brown Baker, Oral history interview with Robert Indiana, 1963 Sept. 12–Nov. 7, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, p. 3.
 John W. McCoubrey and Robert Indiana, Robert Indiana (Philadelphia: Institute of Contemporary Art and Falcon Press, 1968), p. 20.