Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Fresh Connection

First and foremost, J.D. Crowe has created an image with a fresh cultural connection. Barack Obama’s success as an African American politician has been highly publicized. Coverage of this fact has been so common that the effect of the message may have lost meaning for some. Crowe’s cartoon visualizes a connection that breathes life into the message. Jackie Robinson was one of the first African American’s to play major league baseball. Since his time, the game has changed; African Americans now play a prominent and important role in the game. Making the connection, J.D Crowe has effectively rendered an inspiring outlook for African Americans in mainstream politics.

Not only does Crowe’s image allude to a new first for African Americans, but it also further increases the idea of Obama as the quintessential American. Crowe could have easily chosen to portray Obama as Fritz Pollard or Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton, each of whom played in major professional sports leagues (the NFL and NBA, respectively) years prior to Robinson’s debut. However, the choice was made to depict the sport that many feel symbolizes America, is the focus of many young American boy’s lives, and is as “American as apple pie.” Crowe’s image further pushes Obama into the realm of an American icon.

Obama, similar to Robinson, is not the first African American in politics as Robinson was not in baseball. Although not the first African American baseball player in the major leagues, Robinson was the first to sign a formal contract, get a hit in a game, steal home plate, win the Rookie of the Year award, appear in a World Series, win the Most Valuable Player award, and be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Respectively, Obama is the first African American to be President of the United States. Robinson was recognized for breaking racial barriers and for his achievements on the field of play. How will Obama's record develop? To what extent is he, as the image suggests, a Jackie Robinson of politics? Crowe depicts Obama sliding, so we know he at least has gotten a hit, this early in the game.

J.D Crowe draws five cartoons a week for the Mobile Press-Register. Some of his work can be seen on his blog:

--Chris, Jeremiah, and Kirk

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