Political Cartoons - DOES THE TRUTH HURT?

The United States had its own version of apartheid with "Jim Crow" laws and legal segregation. Reflecting hypocrisy and other sensitive issues in his political cartoons, Block's work often used the "in-your-face" approach.

  • In 1961, President Kennedy urged all states to give foreign diplomats "a friendly and dignified reception," even when restaurants in the south had a "no-blacks-allowed" policy. One of Herb Block's cartoons was based on an actual incident. Its descriptive title makes the point: "It's all right to seat them. They're not Americans." (Washington Post; April 27, 1961.)
  • Members of the American Medical Association (AMA) opposed JFK's plan to use payroll taxes as a source of money to provide medical care for the aged. (The legislation ultimately became law and is now known as Medicare.) The AMA's position reminded Block of Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. (Washington Post; November 29, 1961.)
  • Before the AMA and an African-American medical association agreed to form a joint committee to halt injustice toward black doctors - in 1963 - physicians of color were frequently excluded from practice in medical facilities. "Sorry, but you have an incurable skin condition," is the way Herb Block saw it. (Washington Post; July 4, 1963.)
  • On March 7, 1965, about 600 marchers in Selma, Alabama left a local church to rally support for black voter registration. State police attacked the marchers as they reached the Edmund Pettus bridge on the Alabama River. Two days later, Herb Block published a cartoon with this caption: "I got one of 'em just as she almost made it back to the church." (Washington Post; March 9, 1965.)
  • To Block, African-Americans marching for civil rights was just like the Israelites marching around the walls of Jericho. The point? Make the walls tumble down. (Washington Post; March 21, 1965.)
  • After a 1959 heart attack, Block quit smoking. In 1967, he likened cigarettes to a graveyard invitation. (Washington Post; September 3, 1967.)
  • In the summer of 1965, Gemini 4 went into space with two men aboard. At about the same time, Lyndon Johnson authorized direct military involvement in Vietnam if the South Vietnamese government requested it. Block called LBJ's early actions toward Vietnam, "The Other Ascent into the Unknown." (Washington Post; June 10, 1965.) 
  • Even when the government sent more military, including combat troops, to Vietnam, the Johnson administration insisted, "Our Position Hasn't Changed at All." (Washington Post; June 17, 1965.)
  • While Washington, D.C. suffered from urban crime and dismal living conditions, members of Congress were "anxious to get out of town" to campaign for reelection. Block reminded those representatives that people living in the city's slums could escape neither their poverty nor their desperate circumstances. (Washington Post; October 12, 1966.)

Lyndon Johnson, offended by Herb Block's merciless caricatures, refused to award the editorial cartoonist a Medal of Freedom. Bill Clinton did that - despite the many times that Block had also directed his pointed wit at Clinton's issues.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Mar 01, 2007

Updated Last Revision: Sep 01, 2017

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"DOES THE TRUTH HURT?" AwesomeStories.com. Mar 01, 2007. Jan 29, 2020.
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