Artwork by Jourdan Barnett
Throughout the decades, diverse artists, writers, directors and actors have helped build up the animation industry. Most importantly, these amazing people have inspired others in the black community.
They include folks such as Frank C. Braxton Jr. who is considered to be the “Jackie Robinson” of Animation. He worked on such classics as, Mr. Magoo, The Bullwinkle Show, Peabody’s Improbable History, and Peanuts. From Warner Bros. to Disney, Floyd Norman became the first African-American Animator at Disney in 1956. He’s been part of a number of films including 1959’s Sleeping Beauty, Sword in the Stone, The Jungle Book, and Hunchback of Notre Dame. After Disney’s death, Norman left Disney to start his own company with animator, Leo D. Sullivan (Vignette Films, Inc.) to produce Black History films for high schools. The two partners would later work with Hanna Barbera, animate the original Fat Albert Special, as well as the titles to Soul Train. Norman returned to Disney Animation in 1998, to work in the story department on Mulan, and then moved on to Pixar. Other Disney animators, you may have heard of: The Proud Family creator, Bruce W. Smith, and Ron Husband, who worked for Disney for thirty-eight years from 1975 to 2013.
Other than animators and directors, there are also great voice actors. These include Barbara Pinot and Cree Summer. Barbara lent her voice to Valerie Brown from Josie and the Pussycats back in 1970. Cree started her career voicing Penny from Inspector Gadget, in 1983. There are many more black creators in the industry including Aaron McGruder (The Boondocks), Peter Ramsey (Into the Spider-Verse), Dwayne McDuffie (Static Shock), Pilar Newton (Pilar Toons), Scatman Crothers (Hong Kong Phooey), and Arthell Isom (D’Art Shtajio).
This February, The Creators Society Diversity Committee invites members to celebrate Black History Month by recognizing and learning more about these animation greats! No matter who you are or where you’re from, we all share the same passion and dreams. So let’s celebrate.
Diversity Resource Guide
If you belong to or your company sponsors a Diversity Program for the animation industry, we’d like to hear from you!
We are currently planning The Creators Society Diversity Resource Guide, and we are looking for input from you.