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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

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 ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

cartoonist who originated the widely syndicated Wee Pals comic strip, was born Morris N. Turner in Oakland, California, the son of James E. Turner, a Pullman porter, and Nora C. Spears Turner. He had three older brothers, Edward, Marion, and Joseph, and grew up in west Oakland near Poplar Street, between 8th and 11th, then near 5th and Wood streets, at that time a neighborhood of Portuguese, African American, Italian, and Irish families.

Turner attended Lowell Junior High School, then went to McClymonds High School for two years, until his family moved to nearby Berkeley, California. Graduating from Berkeley High in 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force in February 1943, serving in the 477th Bomber Group, 99th Pursuit Squadron, which was activated in January 1944 but was never sent into action Turner did a number of art related projects on assignment to Special Services ...