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Auchter's Art: Civil rights leaders weren't "safe." They were radical.

John Auchter
Michigan Radio

The genesis of this cartoon was actually a James Baldwin quote I had come across earlier this week:

"If any white man in the world says give me liberty or give me death, the entire white world applauds. When a black man says exactly the same thing — word for word — he is judged a criminal and treated like one."

That's just how brilliant Baldwin was: He was able to create a complete editorial cartoon without having to draw anything.

There was no improving on that, so instead I tried to frame an observation about race and race relations in America from my experience. It worries me when people put iconic civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., John Lewis, and Rosa Parks in the "safe" category.

The fact is, they were very smart, keenly observant human beings. And because of that, they were often quite bold and sometimes even angry. They were radicals. Not acknowledging that diminishes their full legacy.

John Auchter is a freelance political cartoonist. His views are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management, or its license holder, the University of Michigan.

Since 1995 John has created Michigan-based editorial cartoons for the Grand Rapids Business Journal, the Grand Rapids Press, and MLive Newspapers. His cartoons are currently featured at MichiganPublic.org and are syndicated to newspapers through the Michigan Press Association. John is an active member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. You can view an archive of his editorial work and other cartoons at Auchtoon.com.
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