Jackie Ormes: Cartoonist

Jackie Ormes, nee Zelda Mavin Jackson, was a journalist, artist, socialite and progressive political activist, a well-known figure in Chicago’s black community in the ’50s and ’60s. She was also, as the subtitle of Nancy Goldstein’s biography indicates, the first African-American woman to write and draw widely distributed comic strips: four different series, published between 1937 and 1956 in black newspapers including The Pittsburgh Courier and The Chicago Defender. Ormes was well ahead of her time; the first black woman to create a syndicated daily strip for mainstream papers was Barbara Brandon-Croft, whose “Where I’m Coming From” didn’t appear until 1989.

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