A Day Like No Other: Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
William Henry "Bill" Mauldin (1921–2003)
Bill Mauldin became a celebrated cartoonist during World War II when he created the dogface soldiers Willie and Joe, earned a Pulitzer Prize in 1959, and wrote a best selling book, Up Front. In the late 1950s, he began working as an editorial cartoonist, first for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and then the Chicago Sun-Times newspapers, finding a new audience among people in favor of civil rights and against the Vietnam War. He won his second Pulitzer Prize in 1962. A hand injury led to his retirement from cartoon drawing in 1991.
A few months before the March on Washington, Mauldin commented on the long and painful struggle for civil rights by portraying a young black man climbing his way through a thorny rose bush to reach for the rose at the top, labeled “Equality.” Published just four days before the march, another of Mauldin’s cartoon shows thousands of demonstrators marching toward a powder keg labeled “Washington, D.C.,” representing both the inevitability of the March on Washington and the fear in the minds of many that such a large crowd could only lead to violent outcome. In reality, when the huge march took place on the mall, it was the largest peaceful demonstrations in U.S. history.
Like photography, political cartoons offer valuable insights into the long struggle for civil rights in America. These two drawings by Bill Mauldin were selected as an introduction to this kind of powerful visual commentary. These artworks also represent the wide range of resources available in the Library’s collections for learning more about the March on Washington and the civil rights movement.
Bill Mauldin. Powder Keg. Published in the Chicago Sun-Times, August 24, 1963. Crayon, ink, blue pencil, and white out over pencil with overlay. Papers of Bill Mauldin, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (047.00.00)