Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Birmingham Public Library Exhibits Cartoons of Charles Brooks

What: The Less Things Change: Charles Brooks and the Art of Alabama Politics exhibit
When: August 20, 2019, through October 4, 2019
Where: Birmingham Public Library – Central Library/Fourth Floor Gallery
Details: Free and open to the public during library hours

For our next exhibit the Birmingham Public Library revisits the work of longtime Birmingham News political cartoonist Charles Brooks. The exhibit, The Less Things Change: Charles Brooks and the Art of Alabama Politics, looks at Brooks’ commentary on politics in his home state from the 1950s to the 1980s.

Visitors familiar with Alabama politics will experience a striking sense of déjà vu when looking at the span of Charles Brooks’ work. Cartoons that Brooks drew decades ago could run in an Alabama newspaper today and still be relevant. He was a strong advocate for a viable two-party system in the state, and frequently addressed issues such as the state’s unfair tax structure and poorly funded educational system. Brooks’ cartoons drawn in the late 1940s attacking the Ku Klux Klan led to threats against him and the Birmingham News. Following a number of Klan threats, the FBI kept Brooks under surveillance for a time, for his own protection.

Charles Brooks
Born in Andalusia, Alabama, Charles Brooks studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts with Chicago Daily News cartoonist Vaughn Shoemaker, a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize. After serving two years in the military during World War II, Brooks worked drawing gag cartoons for a Chicago advertising agency. In 1948 he returned to Alabama and was hired by the Birmingham News as the paper’s first editorial cartoonist. Brooks retired from the News in 1985 but continued to edit the annual Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year, a collection of the work of political cartoonists from the United States and Canada. Brooks died in Birmingham in 2011.

In 1998 Charles Brooks donated nearly 4,000 of his original drawings to the Birmingham Public Library Archives. This exhibit features cartoons from that donation.

In addition to exhibits at the Birmingham Public Library, Brooks’ cartoons have been exhibited at the White House, the National Portrait Gallery in London, and the Smithsonian Institution.

For more information contact Jim Baggett, Department of Archives and Manuscripts, Birmingham Public Library, 2100 Park Place, Birmingham, AL 35203; 205-226-3631;

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