What the FBI Missed

The FBI had a thick file on Jackie Ormes. Widely regarded as the first African-American female cartoonist, Ormes had the misfortune of working during the Joe McCarthy era. Surveillance and suspicion were paranoid disorders of the day. None of the 287 pages that the bureau compiled on Ormes even mentioned her comic strips. As Nancy Goldstein writes in her book, Jackie Ormes: The First African-American Cartoonist, there was much more to Ormes than unfounded suspicions. Between 1937 and 1956, the Chicago socialite and political activist published her cartoons in black newspapers throughout the country. Her characters, mostly wisecracking, fashion-forward women, stood in for Ormes and her subversive politics and upper-crust affiliations. Ormes died in 1985, about 30 years after drawing her last strip. Goldstein talks about Ormes at the Kansas City, Missouri, Central Library (14 West 10th Street) at 6:30 this evening, following a reception at 6. Admission is free. Call 816-701-3407 to RSVP.

Thu., Jan. 29, 6 p.m., 2009