Cartoons of a Civil Society

9, 10, 11, 12

Reviewing current political cartoons related to justice, equity, and racism, learners identify how language and humor act as a form of social action. They create their own cartoons or statement promoting or showing the damage of one of these themes.


PrintOne 45-Minute Session

The learner will:

  • define the terms justice, racism, and equity in the context of civil society.
  • analyze a political cartoon.
  • create a cartoon that promotes social action.


  1. Anticipatory Set: 

    Discuss the meaning of civil society as the rules and behaviors that work toward the good of all. Civil society depends on people and institutions working toward equity and what is best for all. We can work toward the common good through listening, empathy, and discourse.

  2. Justice, equity, and anti-racism are concepts central to civil society, and many political cartoons center on these themes as a way of getting people to think and take positive action. 

  3. In pairs, young people search the Internet for political cartoons that make a statement about justice, equity, or (anti)racism. They choose one to discuss. Ask the pairs to come to a consensus about what their cartoon calls people to think or do. 

  4. Next, each pair joins with another pair forming teams of four (pair-share-square) to synthesize their ideas.

  5. A representative from each “square” explains their similarities and differences to the whole group.

  6. Post their cartoons and statements where the whole group can read in a gallery walk.

  7. Discuss how political cartoons can be an act of philanthropy, sparking people to learn and take action for the good of all. 

  8. As a bonus, the learners create their own cartoon expressing a call to action for others related to justice, equity, anti-racism, and promoting civil society.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Discuss and give examples of why some humans will sacrifice for the benefit of unknown others.
    2. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Give examples from history of how intolerance of ideas, religion, and minorities contributed to social disintegration.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.4 Cite historical examples of citizen actions that affected the common good.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.