On Aug. 30, Gerber/Hart Library honored the birthday and spirit of someone many considered a pioneer by hosting a closing reception for 'Unrelentingly Drawn: The Editorial Cartoons of Danny Sotomayor.' The retrospective exhibition featured the political and social works of the late cartoonist, who passed away in 1992.
The closing reception, entitled 'Act Up, Fight Back,' took place on what would have been Sotomayor's 49th birthday. David Munar, vice president of AIDS Foundation of Chicago, and Lori Cannon, an activist who was a close friend of Sotomayor, spoke at the event.
Munar, who 'got to know Danny through the papers,' said that Sotomayor 'was an ordinary man who faced extraordinary obstacles and challenges [ who ] rose to the challenge to really find his voice and speak the truth.' He added that he 'feel [ s ] a kinship with Danny. Two years after his death, I was diagnosed as HIV-positive and we share a Hispanic heritage. ... [ We ] both found ourselves growing up way too soon, at a time when there were very [ few ] options.' In addition, Munar—who also talked about the lack of health care and supportive housing for HIV-positive individuals—noted that he noticed how many of the issues that Sotomayor commented on 'are still issues that we're battling today.'
Cannon, who said that earlier that day she continued her annual tradition and visited Sotomayor's grave in Roseland Cemetery, talked about how she asked famed activist Larry Kramer for Sotomayor's cartoons back. ( She had Kramer hide them for safekeeping. ) 'Every time another birthday or anniversary came around, it just hit me that the [ works ] should really be enjoyed and they should live,' she said. Cannon also commended Karen Sendziak, the library's president, and Wil Brant, the exhibit's curator, for putting together 'a wonderful homage to one of our heroes.'
Sendziak told the audience that while watching outtakes of Short Fuse: The Story of an AIDS Activst, which features Sotomayor, she 'got a sense of what Danny was like: his playfulness, his seriousness, his dedication... In some respects, I feel that I've made a new friend.'