The Original Cartoon Race Man

Posted by jcmaziquemd on September 16, 2010

Born February 14, 1912 in Westchester country, Ollie Harrington came of age in the South Bronx, a community that would come to define urban deterioration sixty years after his birth. Harrington’s experiences in the South Bronx would help shape his later career and his political sensibilities, particularly his experience in the classroom. Perhaps anticipating the experiences of the fictional Huey and Riley Freemon and far too many school aged black children, Harrington began drawing caricatures of a White female teacher, who Harrington writes, would bring he and another black male student to the front of the classroom and say “these two, being black, belong in the waster basket.”

With the teacher, Miss McCoy, as his racist muse, Harrington began documenting the everyday pitfalls of his life via cartoons he kept in his notebook. Harrington also recalls a police officer named Dougan, who “had a bad habit and that was going on a spree every Saturday night and beating the hell out of every Black kid he could find…that was life in the Bronx.” With little recourse, Harrington turned to art and never looked back.


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