Nation?s Only Black Staff Editorial Cartoonist Laid Off at ?South Bend Tribune?

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By: Rob Tornoe

Ron Rogers — who is believed to be the only African American working full-time as an editorial cartoonist at a daily newspaper –is losing his job at the South Bend Tribune.

Rogers will draw his last cartoon for the Tribune on Friday.

It’s been something the upbeat cartoonist knew was coming since July. But the news of the layoff hasn’t caused him to lose any of his cheer.

“I really can’t say anything bad about this. The Tribune has done well by me over the years,” Rogers said. “I’m really proud of the work I’ve done.”

That work including stepping out of the editorial cartooning box to work and draw for different departments, and even to venture out to draw live events for the newspaper. His “cartoon notebooks” were popular among readers and took him to an interesting cross-section of events, everything from political rallies to county fairs.

Rogers will also leave behind the mantle of being the only African American staff newspaper cartoonist in the country, a distinction he sought since he was young.

“I wanted to be the first black editorial cartoonist on the country since I was 14,” Rogers said. “I just hope my departure doesn’t discourage somebody else who might want to do this.”

He had given up on the dream until the Tribune offered him a position to join their staff. Rogers began freelancing for the Tribune in 2002, joining the staff as a cartoonist in August 2005. He has received two statewide awards in Indiana for his work, and recently received national recognition for cartooning from the Suburban Newspapers of America.

His last cartoon will be filed on Friday, but Rogers won’t be doing a farewell piece.

“I don’t want to do that, because that means it’s totally over for me,” Rogers said.  “I don’t want to admit that.”

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