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Tue, 12.11.1923

Morrie Turner, Cartoonist extraordinaire

Morrie Turner

*Morrie Turner was born on this date in 1923. He was a syndicated African American cartoonist and artist.

From Oakland, California, his father was a Pullman porter and his mother a nurse, he began drawing seriously in elementary school. Morris "Morrie" Turner attended McClymonds High School; in his senior year, he moved to Berkeley to finish his high school years at Berkeley High School. During this time he began questioning why there were no minorities in cartoons, his mentor, Charles Schulz who created Peanuts, suggested he create one.

In 1965, the strip Wee Pals became the first comic strip syndicated in the United States to have a cast of diverse ethnicity. Within 90 days of King’s death, “Wee Pals” was appearing in over 100 newspapers nationwide. Turner is also a published author with sales over a half million, has 25 million daily readers throughout the United States and enjoys prominence in several international locales including: Brazil, Jamaica, the Philippines and Africa. In 2003, the National Cartoonist Society recognized him for his work on this strip and others with Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award.

Turner, who prefers going by the name Morrie, also contributes his talents to concerts by the Bay Area Little Symphony of Oakland, California. He draws pictures to the music and of children in the audience. In 2009, Turner visited Westlake Middle School in Oakland to give a lesson to the OASES Comic Book Preachers Class of drawing. Turner collaborated with the students of the class to create the book Wee The Kids from Oakland, which gives a chance for students to express their challenges, successes and pride as youth in Oakland.

Morrie Turner died on January 25, 2014, he was 90 years old.

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