With each presidential election come debates about immigration, health care, civil rights and other social, domestic and international issues.
Although each year voters opinions’ may change and candidates may change—many of those same trends and topics tend to appear, Patricia MacDonald, associate University librarian for administrative services, said, especially in the media.
Political cartoonist Herbert Block depicted these subjects every year during his career as a cartoonist for the Washington Post. And although his cartoons date back to elections long since past, they are still very timely today, MacDonald said.
Now as the 2012 presidential election closes in, political cartoons like Block’s are more influential than ever.
“I like [political cartoons] that reflect back and relate to current events,” senior mass communication major Nick Spohnholtz said. “I mean I like ‘Garfield’ but I really prefer political cartoons. They’re more meaningful.”
MacDonald and the library staff decided to sponsor “We The People: Herblock on Democracy,” a political cartoon exhibit located on the library’s main floor.
The exhibition showcases the work of Block from his depiction of the 1929 Stock Market crash through summer 2001, MacDonald said.
“If you take time to look at [the cartoons], even though some of them seem to go back 20 or 30 years, the content is very timely,” MacDonald said. “The topics are still current to us even though it was in a prior era.”
Block’s artistry of political movements helped transcend into the development of contemporary political cartoons and their success, MacDonald said. Block’s cartoons are exhibited in the National Gallery of Art and he has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the highest civilian award in the United States.
Block’s exhibit is just part of a co-sponsorship between the library and the department of mass communication and communication studies and the department of political science. All three departments will come together on Sept. 20 when contemporary cartoonist Kal Kallaugher speaks at the West Village Commons Ballrooms.
MacDonald explained that the co-sponsorship between departments is an effort to get students to be more active in politics and to become educated voters.
Although Block himself passed away in 2001, MacDonald said she hopes Kallaugher’s speech will help tie the exhibit together.
“He’s supposed to be a great speaker, so he will also help bring these cartoons to life,” MacDonald said.