2016 Regions Riding Forward® Winning Essay by Jaylon N.

There are a lot of famous cartoonists in the world many whose ideas help improve and shape modern values of American society. People like Walt Disney, Charles M. Schulz, and Chuck Jones have created a variety of animated cartoons and comic strips containing a variety of strange or unique characters that continue to carry their creator’s legacy for generations to come. In honor of Black History Month, this paper is dedicated to the famous cartoonists in the African-American Community. One person in particular is the well famous, Jackie Ormes. Jackie Ormes was an African American female cartoonist who managed to become a successful cartoonist, who created cartoons that dealt with certain issues in society such as racism, sexism, and is a role model for women today.

Zelda Mavin Jackson “Jackie Ormes” was born on August 1, 1911 near the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Being self-taught Jackson was one step ahead in the cartooning industry originally starting in an African-American newspaper entitled The Pittsburgh Courier. During the year of 1937, Jackson’s first comic strip “Dixie to Harlem” was published introducing one of Jackson most iconic character, Torchy Brown. Later in 1942 Jackie moved to Chicago, and started writing for the Chicago Defender. It was here on the city of Chicago where she met her future husband Earl Clark Ormes. Ormes managed the Sutherland Hotel, a hotel established for African-Americans. Jackie Ormes was a member of the board of directors of the DuSable Museum of African-American History and Art. Ormes later died in Chicago on January 2, 1986. Ormes was recently inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame in 2014.

While her legacy as the first African-American cartoonist lives on, many people do not know of her artistic talent and accomplishments. Jackie Ormes produced a number of cartoons and comic strips in her time such as “Torchy in Heartbeats”, “Candy” and “Patty Jo ‘N’ Ginger”. Many of her comic strips dealt with issues in her current American society such as American culture, racism toward blacks, sexism between males and females, war and other things. For example, in “Torchy in Heartbeats”, the main character Torchy is an intelligent, courageous, African-American woman who can handle herself in society and was much contrary to the stereotypical black woman portrayed in the media. 

Jackie Ormes is a remarkable and inspiring figure for future generations because she made a name for herself and rose up into the glamorous ranks of society despite living in a time that was not popular for African-Americans or women. She has inspired me because I am an aspiring cartoonist myself and usually draw cartoons or strips that deal with society issues while adding my own sense of humor as well. Her creations as well as her talent provided a gateway for her voice to touch the lives of millions of American citizens. This inspires me to use my talents and passions to change the world much like Ormes did.


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