Top of page

Exhibition Art in Action: Herblock and Fellow Artists Respond to Their Times

Herblock (1909–2001). Race, 1968. Graphite, ink, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Published in the Washington Post, May 28, 1968. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. ©Herb Block Foundation (007.00.00)

Which Way Forward?

This cartoon appeared weeks after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1968. The tragedy unleashed widespread burning and looting in many cities including Washington, D.C. The loss of life, injuries, and massive destruction in the nation’s capital compelled the city to increase its police force in order to quell growing lawlessness and acknowledge the need to do more to address citizens’ hopelessness. In this metaphor for a crisis in racial relations in America, Herblock asks the viewer which runner will win. By showing the figure of “Progress” pulling ahead of “Violence,” Herblock signals hope for continuing gains in civil rights for all.