Teesee’s Town: Defender cartoonist Chester Commodore exhibit

An exhibition, “Chester Commodore, 1914-2004: The Work and Life of a Pioneering Cartoonist of Color,” opens May 24 at Carter G. Woodson Regional Library, 9525 S. Halsted St., and continues through Dec. 31.

An exhibition, “Chester Commodore, 1914-2004: The Work and Life of a Pioneering Cartoonist of Color,” opens May 24 at Carter G. Woodson Regional Library, 9525 S. Halsted St., and continues through Dec. 31. The Chicago Public Library’s Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature was originally scheduled to open this major show on the career of one of the country’s most influential African American cartoonists this month, but it was postponed. The more than 125 items from the Chester Commodore Papers, permanently held at the Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection, includes rare and unique items, original cartoons, photographs, letters, awards, other memorabilia and material to provide a historical context on the social events depicted in Commodore’s cartoons and by other African American cartoonists.

Chesterfield (“Chester”) Commodore was born in Racine, Wis. in 1914 and moved to Chicago at age 13. The largely self-taught artist was fascinated by cartoons from an early age and in 1948 landed a job at the Chicago Defender where he rose quickly from photo layout to story illustrations to drawing humor cartoons. In 1954, he was named the paper’s primary editorial cartoonist and vigorously campaigned for civil rights and against prejudice, continuing his consciousness-raising mission for 50 years until his death in 2004.

Commodore, a 12-time Pulitzer Prize nominee, won Best Cartoon from the National Newspaper Publishers Association seven times and also received awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, the National Conference of Christians and Jews, and the Lu Palmer Foundation. CPL acquired the Commodore Papers in 2007 as a generous gift from his step-daughter, Lorin Nails-Smoot, and family in a collaborative effort with ComEd, philanthropists Sunil and Julia Garg and the University of Chicago’s Mapping The Stacks project, led by Prof. Jacqueline Goldsby. Support for the exhibit (and accompanying programs) has been provided by The Joyce Foundation, The Chicago Cotillion Charities Foundation and the Vivian G. Harsh Society Inc.

Newsy Names–Archbishop Desmond Tutu addresses a luncheon for Community Support Services, a non-profit that assists developmentally disabled children, adults and their families, on May 7 the at InterContinental Hotel. The Nobel Laureate will speak on human rights, overcoming discrimination under South Africa’s Apartheid regime and how his life experiences can provide lessons and help for people with disabilities. On the Tutu Welcoming Committee: “First Lady” Maggie Daley, U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-7th), state Senate President Emil Jones and Deloris Jordan. Call (708) 688-2109. Dr. Mildred Clopton Harris, God First Ministries’ founder and CEO, is preparing major remarks for Saturday’s Heavenly Breakfast ’08 at McCormick Place. It generally attracts hundreds and hundreds of guests. Call (773) 667-5200.

State Rep. Annazette Collins (D-10th) received the Clifford R. Shaw Legislator of the Year Award “for commitment to Illinois youth, families and neighborhoods” at the annual Community Youth Services Legislative Recognition Luncheon sponsored by Chicago Area Project and Illinois Council of Area Projects at the Springfield Hilton. It was part of the annual Statewide Professional Development Conference.

OwensMorris Communications (Hoyett Owens and Faith Morris), the year-old marketing and communications agency, has been named public relations and engagement marketing agency for Luster Products, the Chicago-based manufacturer of personal care products. Other OM clients: TV One, Exxon- Mobil, Orlando Convention & Visitors Bureau and "Ebony" Magazine.

Classical clarinetist, Desmond Amuh, age 11, performs with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra (the area’s best 7-18 year old musicians), on Tuesday, 7:30 p.m., in Northeastern Illinois U’s Fine Arts Auditorium, 5500 N. St. Louis. Desmond is the son of Drs. Donald and Shelley Amuh and grandson of Janet Poole.

Happy Fifth–wedding anniversary to Regena (Glenn) and Randall Caldwell, who celebrated with kinfolk and friend folk at a lovely dinner party at the New Martinique with surprise entertainment by none other than Terisa Griffin. The fave contemporary, jazz and R&B recording artist “showed up and showed out” for over an hour. Regena is a Lake Shore Link and a claims manager for State Farm Insurance; Randall’s on the governing board of the Chicago Assembly and serves as chair and CEO of The 3rd Coast Group Investment Banking Service.

Gee, I’m So Humbled!–Rev. Marrice Coverson and her Institute for Positive Living will present this columnist with its inaugural “Literary Champion–Lifetime Achievement” award on Thursday at its Seventh Annual Lightbearer Gala, “A Masquerade Ball,” at the Parkway Ballroom, 45th and King Dr. Headlined by singing sensation Terisa Griffin, the evening will spotlight youngsters from IPL’s Open Book Program at Williams Multiplex and Johns Academy performing creations based on books by award-winning authors, Jacqueline Woodson and Nikki Grimes. Other honorees who have helped IPL inspire “the love of reading and learning” are Erwin McEwen, director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services; Amina Dickerson, senior director of corporate contributions, Kraft Foods; Sam Balark, director of external affairs, AT&T; and Michael Scott, president of Michael Scott & Associates, and past president of the Chicago Board of Education. Emcee: a fave media bro, Hosea Sanders, ABC 7’s news anchor. Also on tap: a silent auction and mouth-watering sweets from top local bakeries. Call (773) 924-9802.

Delta Doings–Chicago sorors of Delta Sigma Theta stage their Third Annual Bernadette A. Whitt Mental Health Seminar on Saturday, 3 p.m.-6 p.m., at D’Estee Inc., 4525 S. King Dr. A panel of mental health professionals will give help and insight into depression, childhood behavior, post traumatic stress disorder, etc. Refreshments will be served; admission is free. Physical and mental health committee co-chairs: Sylvia Harvey and Dorothy Wilson-Davis.

Milestones–So sorry to hear of the death of Bernarr A. Dawson, the first principal of Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, former assistant principal of DuSable High School, principal of DuSable Upper Grade Center and Calumet High School and superintendent of Chicago Public Schools District 17. Dawson retired in 1989 but continued to work for CPS as a consultant and at De Paul Univ., as a specialist in School Achievement until 2004. His services were at South Suburban Church of God in Homewood. Send condolences to his wife, Dr. Diane Dyer-Dawson, 2147 Tyler, Lynwood, IL 60411. And I just learned of the passing of silver-tressed Ollie Browning, retired state employee and sister of the late OliverWoods, long-time owner of the popular 87th St. watering hole, The Swingers’ Lounge. Ollie’s funeral was held at A.A. Rayner & Sons.

Free Mammograms–Ol’ skool Hollywood hunks, Fred “The Hammer” Williamson and breast cancer survivor Richard Roundtree, support Anaia’s Breast Cancer Awareness Program on Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., at Dominick’s Finer Foods, 71st and Jeffrey, by enrolling uninsured women for free mammograms for the early detection of breast cancer. Anaia’s Breast Cancer Awareness Program, a non-profit foundation, was founded by Ken Bedford. His beloved wife Anaia lost her battle to breast cancer in April 2004. Visit http://www.abcap.org or call (312) 608-6358.

Reunion Union–The Legacy Lives On,” the Englewood High School All Classes Reunion on Saturday at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, is spear-headed by The Eagles of the Class of 1968. All proceeds from the $100 per person night of dining, dancing, reminiscing, catching up on old times and being entertained by the talents of several alumni, will benefit the Class of 2008’s Scholarship Fund. Now just in case you aren’t aware or have been living under a rock for a while, the legendary Englewood High School, which opened in 1878, closes its doors “for good” in June. To sign up for this landmark party, hurry and call (773) 821-0560 or visit the Web site, www.ehseagles.org. “The Eagles Have Landed!”

Happy B’day – on Monday, May 5, to the Chicago Defender and to “Teesee.” One of us will be 103 years old! One of us won’t!

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