Aaron McGruder: Why He Used The Boondocks To Say The Unthinkable

Aaron McGruder is perhaps one of the most controversial writers in history because of his comic strip The Boondocks, which was later turned into an animated TV series that he served as creator, executive producer, and head writer for.  McGruder was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1974 but moved to Columbia, Maryland at the age of 6 when his father accepted a job there.  The neighborhood his family lived in was mostly-white after having lived in a largely Black neighborhood.  He often felt like an outsider in the new neighborhood, and his experiences helped serve as a basis for what has been his most successful creation thus far.  He later attended the University of Maryland where he completed a degree in African American Studies.

The Boondocks made its debut in the University of Maryland campus newspaper, The Diamondback in 1997.  McGruder had created the comic while working at the Presentation Graphics Lab on the University’s campus.  At the time, he was also serving as a DJ on WMUC.  In April 1999, the Universal Press Syndicate made the largest launch ever of a single comic strip when The Boondocks was unveiled in 160 newspapers.

While the strip’s satirical view of Black culture and American politics generated controversy and critique, it also gained a large following both as a strip and as an adult animated sitcom on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim.  The animated sitcom premiered in November 2005 and ran until June 2014, generating four seasons.  The show has been syndicated outside of the US and can be streamed on demand on Netflix.

One of the most infamous lines of the show is, “Jesus was black, Ronald Reagan was the devil, and the government is lying about 9-11.”  Many wonder what would make McGruder have the courage to create a show that has characters say things that are that edgy.  The following interview takes a look at what makes McGruder tick and why he felt compelled to address controversial issues through The Boondocks.

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