Aaron McGruder (born May 29, 1974 in Chicago, Illinois) is an American cartoonist best known for writing and drawing The Boondocks, a Universal Press Syndicate comic strip about two young African-American brothers from inner-city Chicago now living with their grandfather in a sedate suburb. Through the leftist Huey (named after Huey P. Newton) and his younger brother Riley, a gangsta-wannabe, the strip explores issues involving African American culture and American politics.
When McGruder's father accepted a job with the National Transportation Safety Board, McGruder moved to Columbia, Maryland at age six with his parents and his older brother Dedric. He attended a Jesuit school from grades two to nine, followed by public high school at Oakland Mills High School and the University of Maryland, from which he graduated with a degree in African American Studies. The Boondocks debuted in the campus newspaper, The Diamondback, in late 1997, under its then-editor, Jayson Blair. McGruder created the comic while working at the Presentation Graphics Lab on campus. At the time, he was also a DJ on the "Soul Controllers Mix Show" on WMUC.
McGruder presently lives in Los Angeles, California, where his projects include the Boondocks animated TV series. He is also the co-author, with Reginald Hudlin, of a 2004 graphic novel, Birth of a Nation, drawn by cartoonist Kyle Baker, and a frequent public speaker on political and cultural issues.
The content of McGruder's comic strip has often come under fire for being politically left-wing and occasionally risque, leading to its being published in the op-ed section of many newspapers. For example, a strip making fun of BET's rap videos, some of which rely on lewd female gyrations, and a strip mocking Whitney Houston's drug problems were pulled out of circulation for emphasizing her buttocks and marijuana use, even though done as parody. McGruder has also received hate mail for his unflattering portrayal of white racism, and garnered significant attention after the September 11, 2001 attacks with a series of strips in which Huey calls a government tipline to report Ronald Reagan for funding terrorism. Soon after, he "censored" several strips by featuring a talking patriotic yellow ribbon and a flag instead of the usual cast.
Several of his strips have been briefly pulled from prominent publications. His "Condi Needs a Man" strip, in which Huey and his friend Caesar create a personal ad for U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, portraying her as a "female Darth Vader type", resulted in The Washington Post withholding a week's worth of strips, the longest such suspension ever by the paper — whose ombudsman, Michael Getler, later sided with McGruder. The Post also declined to run "Can a Nigga Get a Job?", which had black contestants compete on a reality TV show to work for Russell Simmons, only to find that all the contestants were rude and lazy. This unflattering portrayal drew the ire of many in the African-American community.
Conservative black commentator Larry Elder took exception to one strip in which Huey and Caesar discuss the "Most Embarrassing Black Person of the Year Awards", which they dub the "Elder". Elder published an opinion piece in which he created the "McGruders" to the same effect, naming liberal commentators and including five quotes from McGruder, to whom Elder awarded his fictional award.
Date of Birth:
May 29, 1974
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