We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Madison Avenue and the Color Line

African Americans in the Advertising Industry

By Jason Chambers

Publication Year: 2011

Until now, most works on the history of African Americans in advertising have focused on the depiction of blacks in advertisements. As the first comprehensive examination of African American participation in the industry, Madison Avenue and the Color Line breaks new ground by examining the history of black advertising employees and agency owners.

For much of the twentieth century, even as advertisers chased African American consumer dollars, the doors to most advertising agencies were firmly closed to African American professionals. Over time, black participation in the industry resulted from the combined efforts of black media, civil rights groups, black consumers, government organizations, and black advertising and marketing professionals working outside white agencies. Blacks positioned themselves for jobs within the advertising industry, especially as experts on the black consumer market, and then used their status to alter stereotypical perceptions of black consumers. By doing so, they became part of the broader effort to build an African American professional and entrepreneurial class and to challenge the negative portrayals of blacks in American culture.

Using an extensive review of advertising trade journals, government documents, and organizational papers, as well as personal interviews and the advertisements themselves, Jason Chambers weaves individual biographies together with broader events in U.S. history to tell how blacks struggled to bring equality to the advertising industry.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press


pdf iconDownload PDF (35.0 KB)
pp. v

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (143.4 KB)
pp. 1-19

In the early 1990s, Kay Lorraine, a Chicago-based advertising producer, assembled a cast and crew on location to film a commercial for a Cleveland grocery chain. She hired a multiracial cast to reflect Cleveland’s diversity, but the client representative, after seeing the black actors at...

read more

1. The Rise of Black Consumer Marketing

pdf iconDownload PDF (382.2 KB)
pp. 20-57

In the first decades of the twentieth century African Americans were emerging from what one historian described as their ‘‘nadir’’: the period following Reconstruction in which blacks were betrayed by the promises of the government and left to defend themselves against the...

read more

2. The Jackie Robinsons of Advertising and Selling

pdf iconDownload PDF (662.6 KB)
pp. 58-112

As a nation, America in the 1940s faced a host of challenges. Still emerging from the crisis of the Depression, Americans also confronted the chaos of a world war. Within the country, the departure of men and women for military duty led to significant labor shortages in key...

read more

3. Civil Rights and the Advertising Industry

pdf iconDownload PDF (289.8 KB)
pp. 113-156

For African Americans, the 1960s seemed destined to become a decade of momentous changes. Near the end of the 1950s, activists won victories in local protests throughout the South, and the Civil Rights Act of 1957 became the first piece of federal civil rights legislation in nearly eighty...

read more

4. Affirmative Action and the Search for White Collars

pdf iconDownload PDF (193.1 KB)
pp. 157-205

By the mid-1960s, the disillusionment and pent-up anger that many blacks felt were ready to explode. Obviously the nation had made strides with some of the recent civil rights victories in the South, but they had slight impact outside the region. For black residents in northern cities...

read more

5. The Golden Age

pdf iconDownload PDF (643.0 KB)
pp. 206-258

Although black comedian Godfrey Cambridge was joking about Band- Aids, a stark truth lay behind his assertion. The makers of the popular but pink-toned Band-Aid overlooked that, in fact, it did not match all flesh tones. His joke encapsulated the long-held belief among black...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (103.8 KB)
pp. 259-272

The recession that hit the advertising industry in the 1970s effectively brought an end to the Golden Age for blacks in the industry. Advertising agencies ended most of the training programs that had increased the numbers of minorities in agencies, and the few remaining programs...


pdf iconDownload PDF (182.1 KB)
pp. 273-306


pdf iconDownload PDF (722.5 KB)
pp. 307-320

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (29.5 KB)
pp. 321-322

Although only a single name appears on the cover of this book, it would not have been possible without the support of a number of people and organizations. First, my thanks to Robert Lockhart at the University of Pennsylvania...

E-ISBN-13: 9780812203851
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812220605

Page Count: 328
Publication Year: 2011