Our favorite time of the year is finally here!

It is time to celebrate and dedicate the entire month of February to black history. Follow Sheen Magazine along the way as we’ll share black history facts throughout the entire month. Every day, we will share little-known facts, celebrate those who played made their mark in history, and the historic moments and events.

Jackie Ormes

Jackie Ormes was born Zelda Mavin Jackson in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on August 1st, 1911 to Mary Brown and William Winfield Jackson. Unfortunately, her father passed away after being involved in an accident.

Upon her mother’s remarriage, Jackie and her older sister, Delores relocated to the area of Monongahela.

Growing up

It was while she was young when people began calling her “Jackie,” which is a shortened version of her family name.

Growing up, it was clear that the sisters both had a creative side to them. Delores went on to become a vocalist for Decca Records while Jackie handled the art duties for Monongahela High School’s yearbook her junior and senior year.

While still in high school, Ormes applied to the Pittsburgh Courier, an African American weekly newspaper, she worked as a reporter and proofreader.

Personal life

In 1931, Jackie married Earl Clark Ormes. Because of financial difficulties during the Great Depression, the duo moved to Salem, Ohio to live with Earl’s family before they ended up in Chicago, Illinois. Jackie gave birth to a daughter named Jacqueline, who unfortunately passed away from a brain tumor at just three-years-old.

The comics

On May 1st, 1937, Ormes debuted a comic strip titled, “Torchy Brown in “Dixie to Harlem.” It was a story that followed a young Mississippi woman who comes on a journey to become a star at the Cotton Club. The Courier ran the comic for a full year!

The comic strip’s debut made Ormes the first African American woman to become a professional newspaper cartoonist.

Jackie and her husband eventually relocated to the Windy City when Earl got into hotel management. Jackie went on to take classes at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. During the ’40s, she penned a society column for The Chicago Defender. It was there where she was able to debut her next big project titled, Candy. The cartoon panel ran for four months in 1945.

In September of 1945, Ormes returned to the Courier. Her longest running comic, Patty-Jo ‘n’ Ginger ran there for 11 years! The comic inspired Jackie to create a Patty-Jo doll in a special collaboration with Terri Lee Company.

During this time, Ormes returned one of her characters with the Torchy in Heartbeats strip, which ran for four years.

Political commentary

While being a trailblazer for women all around the world, Ormes was also very vocal within her work and it was obvious. While her comic had serious themes, she was still able to celebrate all the things women love including fashion and glamour.

Leadership After

Her series, Patty-Jo ‘n’ Ginger ended in 1956, Jackie turned her attention to coordinating fashion shows and becoming a community and civil rights activist.

The passing of Jackie Ormes

Jackie suffered from rheumatoid arthritis in the later years of her life. This impacted her ability to draw. On December 26th, 1985, Jackie Ormes passed away from a cerebral hemorrhage.


Over two decades later, the University of Michigan Press published a book titled, Jackie Ormes: The First African American Cartoonist, it was written by Nancy Goldstein. The DuSable Museum of African American History (which Jackie helped found) also houses her papers.

All information obtained on Biography

All images obtained on University of Michigan Press