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Tue, 12.11.1923

Morrie Turner, Cartoonist born

Morrie Turner

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

From Oakland, California, Morris "Morrie" Turners' father was a Pullman Porter, and his mother a nurse.  He began drawing seriously in elementary school.  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” appeared in over 100 newspapers nationwide. Turner was also a published author with over a half million sales, has 25 million daily readers throughout the United States, and enjoyed 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 preferred going by the name Morrie, also contributed his talents to the Bay Area Little Symphony of Oakland, California concerts. He draws pictures of the music and children in the audience. In 2009, Turner visited Westlake Middle School in Oakland to teach the OASES Comic Book Preachers Class about 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, at 90 years old.

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