This week, we dedicate part of the Community Journal’s Perspectives page to former MCJ political cartoonist and noted artist Lester James Kern.
Kern passed away recently from cancer. One of the newspaper’s original staffer’s Kern helped define the editorial page with his cutting edge perspective to the issues confronting Milwaukee and the nation through his editorial cartoons and cover for the newspaper when it was a tabloid.
As noted by MCJ Associate Publisher Mikel Holt in his Signifiyin’ column last week, Kern had no peer as a editorial cartoonist.
His editorial cartoons–with their biting wit and unique perspectives on Black life–constantly challenged not only the racist status quo of Milwaukee, but Black Milwaukeeans to empower themselves and take pride in our heritage and culture.
He was not afraid of calling out leadership that was out of touch with the people or self-absorbed with themselves and what crumbs they could get from the table instead of working to assure that we had a seat at that table to get a healthy slice of the economic pie.
Below are examples of his work and the topics he unblinkingly took on to provoke reactions–good and bad– thinking and even action by members of the community who avidly picked up the Community Journal to see who Kern was aiming his artist’s brush.
After he moved to Atlanta to pursue a successful fine arts career, Kern would often drop by our offices when he came back to Milwaukee to catch-up with some of his former co-workers and friends.
Kern is a MCJ family member whose wit, easy laugh and opinions on the issues of the day we will sorely miss.