Doonesbuy strip demonstrates power of the cartoon

There’s a great article in the McGill Tribune about the great potential the cartoon has for motivating change in society and they use Gary Trudeau’s Doonesbury as an example of a cartoon that helped end a racial law in Florida back in the mid-1980s.

Legally speaking, racial segregation in the United States is an issue that was more-or-less resolved in the sixties. Yet, until 1985, minority group members in Palm Beach, Florida, were still officially required to possess an ID card to get around town. In a sudden change of heart, Florida politicians became so ashamed of their racist legislature that they abolished their minority branding “passcard” requirement. What caused this rapid altercation? Protests? Lobbyists? They may have contributed, but the true instigator of this legal and cultural transformation was a series of Doonesbury comic strips.

1,000 words and maybe a law

Outraged by this modern-day version of Jim Crow legislation, Gary Trudeau, the mastermind behind the Pulitzer-Prize-winning editorial cartoon strip, blatantly mocked the Florida government. Local politicians got the hint. Known as the Doonesbury Act, this incident revealed a lot more than the continuing injustice of de facto segregation. It also proved that editorial cartoons are a substantial, even practical, medium of social and political change.

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