Unificationist Alexander Hunter was honored with the National Journalism Award for Editorial Cartooning and awarded a $10,000 cash prize by the Scripps Howard organization on April 23 in Florida. He was selected on the basis of his full-page feature illustration, “Hunter’s Big Picture,” which ran in the Washington Times from June, 2008 until the Washington Times discontinued the feature in December, 2009.
"These awards not only recognize outstanding talent, skill and intellect, but
reward dedication to serving our country and communities with journalism that
changes lives and protects democracy," Mike Philipps, the foundation's
president, said in a written statement. The foundation presented trophies and cash awards in 17 categories, including Mr. Hunter's, during a ceremony on April 23 in Tampa, Fla.
“Hunter’s Big Picture” also won Best-in-Show Awards from the Virginia Press Association and from the Maryland, Delaware and District of Columbia Press Associations. The full-page cartoon festooned with text balloons recalls the illustrations popular in newspapers early in the 20th Century.
Abiding Interest in Human Responsibility
"My target was somewhere deeper and higher than left and right, and this
recognition tells me my aim this year must not have been too bad," Mr. Hunter
said. “I am trying to reach peoples’ original minds, meaning that part of their conscience in which God resonates. By my experience there is a part of my mind and heart that resonates with God. And I aim to touch that same part in other people.”
“Whether it’s gas prices or abortion, most of the topics I deal with are related to human responsibility,” he says. “My challenge every week is to find something in the news that is funny and not something other people already are talking about. It can’t be preachy or leaden, and it has to wake them up,” he explains.
The Washington Times also nominated Mr. Hunter for the Pulitzer Prize. The nominating letter explained his achievement this way: “He delved fearlessly into such issues as the economy, the health-care debate and confrontation between Islam and the West. Whatever the subject, a Hunter cartoon was never a one-line gag: These cartoons require the readers to take their time and to think hard about the subject, usually leading the reader to look at the issue with a new perspective.”
For 26 years Mr. Hunter made a name for himself at the Times as an expert illustrator for commentary and features such as book reviews. He won numerous regional newspaper illustration awards. “For those years I had to illustrate other people’s ideas, but in June, 2008, I got my own page,” he says. The result was “Hunter’s Big Picture.”
The nominating biography this year included references to Mr. Hunter joining the Unification Church and steering a dramatically different course in life as a result. In previous years this reference was edited out of the biography attached to the nomination. But this year the following text remained: “A pivotal moment for Mr. Hunter occurred when he encountered the teachings of Sun Myung Moon. His life took a profound change in direction, and he began working as part of the worldwide Unificationist movement.”
Mr. Hunter credits the ideas of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon as informing his moral vision. “My character has been totally remade through True Parents,” he says. He was the last person “drafted” for the Washington Times mission on God’s Day, January 1, 1982 in the Grand Ballroom of the Hotel New Yorker and was personally selected by the founder of the Washington Times, Rev. Moon. At that point in his church career Mr. Hunter had been serving on New York Church Mobile Fundraising Team (MFT) for two years. He joined the Unification Church in New York City in December, 1979.
In his off-duty hours, Mr. Hunter made a name for himself as an ordained Baptist minister and an activist with the American Clergy Leadership Conference. He says he proudly explains to his friends that he and his wife, Toyoko, and their five children strive to embody the ideals of theTrue Parents. They attend the New Hope Family Church based in Landover Hills, Maryland. A former Assistant Scoutmaster, he currently serves on the Troop Committee of Boy Scout Troop 1212, sponsored by New Hope Academy. He and Toyoko married in the 1,275 Couples Blessing of 1989. All of their five children are homeschooling in Brandywine, Maryland.
Contributed by Douglas Burton