Remembering Jackie Ormes

November 29, 2011

There’s a persistent stereotype that comics and graphic novels are written only by and about young, usually white men. Yet as the marvelous blog Madame Noire reminds us, “Black Women Love Comics Too!” Any doubters should take a peek at the Ormes Society website. Named for Jackie Ormes, the first African American female cartoonist, the Society promotes the inclusion of black women as creators and characters in the comics industry.

Ormes is getting more attention lately herself, with a new biography highlighting her pioneering work as an editorial cartoonist, commercial artist, and civil rights activist. Her beloved character Torchy Brown, who debuted as a Harlem teenager in 1937, embodied the struggles and accomplishments of the Great Migration, while the wise cracking Patty Jo and Ginger commented slyly on the racial struggles of the Cold War era. A fascinating, and little known slice of American cultural history.   –Lesley W.

Remembering Lena Horne, 1917-2010

May 11, 2010

She was a goddess of style  and sexiness, filtered through that cool Philadelphia aura. She defied categorization; “too white” for black  movie roles, but “too colored” for acceptance in the Jim Crow South, “too red” in her political beliefs for the McCarthy era.

Looking back at the age of 80, Ms. Horne said: “My identity is very clear to me now. I am a black woman. I’m free. I no longer have to be a ‘credit.’ I don’t have to be a symbol to anybody; I don’t have to be a first to anybody. I don’t have to be an imitation of a white woman that Hollywood sort of hoped I’d become. I’m me, and I’m like nobody else.”

She sure was. Thanks for the memories, Lena.

–Lesley W.

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