Herblock Looks at 1961: Fifty Years Ago in Editorial Cartoons
For many Americans, the tensions of 1961—conflicts between East and West, the use of nuclear weapons and traditional warfare, political battles between conservatives and liberals, and issues concerning civil rights and segregation—played out forcibly throughout the rest of the decade. This selection of political cartoons by Herblock shows how his fear of nuclear annihilation led to the creation of some of his best work that year. He also addressed economic stagnation, suffrage for residents of Washington, D.C., civil rights, and the space race.
Herblock developed his character “Mr. Atom” in 1946 to visualize the threat of nuclear annihilation omnipresent during the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States from 1945 to 1990. He used Mr. Atom repeatedly in 1961, when Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev (1894–1971) challenged American president John F. Kennedy (1917–1963). Khrushchev began to build the Berlin Wall in August 1961 and detonated large nuclear weapons during tests as further evidence of Soviet strength. Herblock drew a series of bone-chilling and nuanced cartoons that depicted his Cold War fears, for which he laid blame on the Soviets.
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