African-American leaders have been vital to making America strong.
- Ormes’ comic strips were syndicated in black newspapers in the 1930s and ‘40s, making her the only nationally syndicated black woman cartoonist until the 1990s.
- Her characters were fashionable and intelligent, setting a new precedent for black depictions of that day (1937-56).
- A doll based on one of her comic strip characters (ca. 1950) offered African-American children one of the first real toy options that was not a negative stereotype.
Jackie Ormes was born Zelda Jackson in a small town outside Pittsburgh. At a time when it was not easy to be a working woman of any color, Jackie Ormes was a stylish woman who worked in a male-dominated world of journalism and cartooning.
She was a self-taught artist who had several successful comic strips and cartoon characters, and they were precedent-setting. The characters were fashionable and professional. Often the focus of a strip was on humor, but Ormes was happy to use her comics as a platform for commentary on society’s ills as well. Her targets were frequently racial issues, but in 1953-54, her comic strip character, Torchy, took on environmental pollution, particularly as it was occurring in black neighborhoods. This was long before strips like Pogo had become the “issue” strip we think of today.