Back in the late 1960s when minorities were getting their dander up, painting signs, joining in protest marches, and calling attention to their plight, I was determined to join the parade led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and introduce a black playmate to the Mitchell neighborhood. I named him Jackson and designed him in the tradition of Little Black Sambo with huge lips, big white eyes, and just a suggestion of an Afro hairstyle. He was cute as a button, and in addition to being a marvelous graphic, he would reflect the refreshing, naive honesty of preschool children as yet unexposed to prejudice and rancor. It was a splendid opportunity to inject some humor into the extremely tense political climate. I urged my writers to give this priority and rolled up my sleeves with enthusiastic anticipation.
not to apologize but to express my utter dismay at the absurd reaction to my innocent cartoon… Any regular Dennis-watcher would surely know that I am never vindictive or show any intent to malign or denigrate… It was my depiction of Dennis’s new pal that got their tails in a knot. I gave them a miniature Steppin [sic] Fetchit when they wanted a half-pint Harry Belafonte.It seems that Sammy Davis, Jr., was the only one who could safely poke fun at the minorities. To this day, Jackson remains in the ink bottle. A pity.
Didn’t anybody, you know, tell him, over there in Switzerland, that Little Black Sambo was one of the reasons for all that marching and stuff?