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Lalo Alcaraz honored for top editorial cartooning prize, its first Latino recipient

The Los Angeles-based political cartoonist was honored at the Library of Congress with the prestigious Herblock Prize for his "courage and unapologetic focus" on issues.
Image: Lalo Alcaraz
Lalo Alcaraz at the 2nd Annual L'Attitude Conference - LatiNExt Live on Sept. 26, 2019 in San Diego.Jerod Harris / Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — One of the nation's first syndicated Latino cartoonists was honored at a ceremony Tuesday at the Library of Congress, the recipient of the one of the nation's top prizes in editorial cartooning.

Los Angeles-based political cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz is the first Latino to be awarded the prestigious Herblock Prize, a $15,000 award named after the late Washington Post syndicated editorial cartoonist Herb Block. Known as “Herblock,” he was best known for his commentaries on domestic and foreign policy issues.

The prize is awarded annually for “distinguished examples of editorial cartooning that exemplify the courageous, independent standard set by Herblock, according to the Herb Block Foundation.

In announcing the prize in March, the foundation said they consider Alcaraz’s work to be groundbreaking.

Alcaraz, who is Mexican American, is the author of the first nationally syndicated Latino political cartoon strip, “La Cucaracha.”

Political cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz giving remarks at a ceremony in his honor after receiving the Herblock Prize for editorial cartooning at the Library of Congress on Tuesday, April 26.
Political cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz giving remarks at a ceremony in his honor after receiving the Herblock Prize for editorial cartooning at the Library of Congress on Tuesday, April 26. Patricia Guadalupe / NBC News

The foundation singled out recent cartoons drawing on Chicano art as he focused on the importance of Covid vaccinations as well as his decadeslong focus on issues impacting the nation's Hispanics.

“No other political cartoonist working in the U.S. brings as much passion, dedication and brilliance to the fight for fair immigration at the border and justice for the Latino community. Lalo Alcaraz’s courage and unapologetic focus on these and other civil rights issues makes him a deserving recipient of the 2022 Herblock Prize,” the foundation said in March.

At the ceremony, Alcaraz said, "I dedicate this award to my mother and father and all immigrants who break down walls and overcome barriers."

Alcaraz told NBC News on Tuesday he “still can’t believe” he received the award, calling it “a great honor.”

Alcaraz said the recognition confirms that "representation matters" in the editorial pages of newspapers but also on TV, film, literature and everywhere children and society look to.

One of Alcaraz’s most popular depictions is called “Lil’ Judge López,” which he calls a tribute to Justice Sonia Sotomayor as the Supreme Court's first Latina justice.

“I was furious at the way she was getting grilled by Republicans at her confirmation hearing, so I decided to do a positive cartoon about her showing how she will be a role model for all girls, but especially brown girls,” Alcaraz states in a description of the cartoon, adding that Sotomayor has an autographed print hanging in her SCOTUS chambers.

Alcaraz, a writer, producer and cultural consultant for film, television and animation, has worked on projects at Nickelodeon and the Cartoon Network and was a cultural consultant on the Oscar-winning animated Pixar film “Coco.”

"I'm very happy for him. This is a great honor and I'm glad he's finally being recognized for his work," said Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., the state's first Latino U.S. Senator and who was in attendance at the ceremony. "He deserves it."

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