Upon meeting Anniston Star editorial cartoonist Leilah Rampa for the first time, one prominent Alabama
politician teasingly asked, “Were you abused as a small child?”
The obvious answer is, no. She is an editorial cartoonist. Like most
in that field she uses pen, ink and paper to knock down the puffed
up with brutally precise accuracy. It’s not a tortured childhood,
but a refined love of justice that drives editorial cartoonists.
It’s what drives Leilah Rampa, who has worked for The Star since
2003. And it’s what regular readers of her work will miss starting
this month. Leilah is leaving the paper to concentrate on earning a
master’s degree at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of
Art and Design.
Leilah has had quite a journey since coming to East Alabama
almost 10 years ago as a high school exchange student. She went on
to Jacksonville State University, where she came to the attention of
John Fleming, who was then the paper’s editorial page editor.
Leilah cut her teeth cartooning in support of Amendment 1, the
2003 move to reform Alabama’s tax structure that eventually died a
brutal death at the polls. It was a worthy introduction to Alabama
politics, a subject her editorial cartooning probed deeply.
Now she is moving on, but not without Alabama leaving its mark on
this native of Chur, Switzerland. Leilah’s Chicago friends tell her
they can hear the South in her Swiss accent. Speaking on the phone
Friday, she told me, “I’ll always have a place in my heart for
Anniston, Ala., and for The Anniston Star.”
Likewise, she has left her mark on this newspaper and its