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Vincent F. A. Golphin

artist and creator of Luther, one of the first comic strips with African American characters to be widely published in U.S. newspapers, was born in Washington, D.C., two blocks north of Union Station, then the national capital's major transportation center. Brumsic Brandon Sr. worked there as a railway porter. Brandon Jr.'s mother, the former Pearl Brooks, was a stock clerk and maid at the Kann's Department Store.

At Charles Young Platoon Elementary School, Brandon was a high achiever who loved to draw, which inspired him to pursue art as a career. In 1942, when he entered Armstrong Technical High School, he took nearly every painting, sketching, and sculpture course. Also, at the urging of teachers, he added courses in drafting, which later made him more employable. Brandon graduated in February 1945 intent on becoming a comic strip artist but instead he became one of the first African ...

Article

Lorin Nails-Smoote

political and editorial cartoonist, was born Chesterfield Commodore in Racine, Wisconsin, the fourth of five children of Elizabeth “Bessie” Fite and Pascal “Pat” Commodore, a Creole laborer and model maker from Louisiana. One Commodore ancestor, Peter D. Thomas of Racine, a former slave, was the first elected black official in Wisconsin.

The family resided with Bessie Commodore's mother, Della, in her Racine boarding house until 1923 when the three girls and their parents moved to Chicago where Pat could pursue better employment opportunities. Chester, as he was known, remained with his grandmother and his older brother until 1927 when he joined his parents.

Commodore grew up in a culturally stimulating environment Because of its convenient proximity to Chicago and Milwaukee and because black entertainers in pre integration years were not allowed above the first floor of the Chicago and Milwaukee hotels where they appeared Della Fite s ...

Article

Christine G. McKay

cartoonist, was born Oliver Wendell Harrington in New York City, the son of Herbert Harrington, a porter, and Euzenie Turat. His father came to New York from North Carolina in the early 1900s when many African Americans were seeking greater opportunities in the North. His mother had immigrated to America, arriving from Austria-Hungary in 1907, to join her half sister. Ollie Harrington grew up in a multiethnic neighborhood in the South Bronx and attended public schools. He recalled a home life burdened by the stresses of his parents' interracial marriage and the financial struggles of raising five children. From an early age, he drew cartoons to ease those tensions.

In 1927 Harrington enrolled at Textile High School in Manhattan He was voted best artist in his class and started a club whose members studied popular newspaper cartoonists Exposure to the work of Art Young Denys ...

Article

Nancy Goldstein

cartoonist, was born Zelda Mavin Jackson in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the younger daughter of Mary Brown Jackson, homemaker, and William Winfield Jackson, printer and printing business owner. “Jackie,” the name she would be known for, came from Jackson, her maiden name. Jackie Ormes was the first African American woman cartoonist. She created four different cartoon series, all in African American weekly newspapers, mostly in the late 1940s and early 1950s: Torchy Brown in “Dixie to Harlem” from 1 May 1937 to 30 April 1938 in the Pittsburgh Courier; Candy from 24 March 1945 to 21 July 1945 in the Chicago Defender; Patty-Jo ‘n’ Ginger from 1 September 1945 to 22 September 1956 in the Pittsburgh Courier; Torchy in Heartbeats from 19 August 1950 to 18 September 1954 in the Pittsburgh Courier Ormes grew up in a middle class mixed race neighborhood in Monongahela Pennsylvania where she once ...