The rich legacy of concerned African American public relations professionals that Pat Tobin valiantly triumphed started in the 1930s with one Moss Kendrix, often referred to as the “Father of Black PR.”
Moss Kendrix began making his mark in public relations while still a student at Morehouse College in the mid-1930s. As the editor of the school’s Maroon Tiger newspaper and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, he co-founded the Phi Delta Delta Journalism Society, the first and only society of its kind for African American journalism students. Just after graduating from Morehouse in 1939, he created National Newspaper Week to “generate much needed recognition of America’s Negro press and their importance to our community.” That recognition remains today in the form of Black Press Week, observed annually by the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA).
In 1944, Kendrix became director of public relations for the Republic of Liberia’s Centennial Celebration. That same year, he founded his own public relations firm in Washington, DC, The Moss Kendrix Organization. His firm was responsible for several major corporate accounts targeting African American consumers. His client list included Carnation, the National Education Association, the Republic of Liberia and Ford Motor Company. And his was the first Black firm to be retained by the Coca Cola Company in the early 1950s after Kendrix submitted a comprehensive plan to company executives on how to market to the African American community. He became an integral part of Coca Cola’s product promotion efforts.
Kendrix was also the first African American public relations practitioner to have his own weekly radio program called “Profiles of Our Times” on Washington’s WWDC. Rounding out his legacy of innovation, Moss Kendrix created the National Association of Market Developers in 1953 as a “support group for minorities in the public relations field.” The organization still exists today as the National Alliance of Market Developers, “An organization of professionals engaged in marketing, sales, sales promotion, advertising and public relations who are focused on the delivery of goods and services to the minority and urban consumer markets.”
Like Pat Tobin, Moss Kendrix was a public relations pioneer who left a lasting legacy and a major imprint on the way African Americans were portrayed through the power of public relations and advertising. During his lifetime, he designed countless public relations and advertising campaigns that promoted African American visibility for news organizations, entertainers and corporate clients. Moss Kendrix died in 1989.
About the the GSMNS’s PR pioneer series
Please read, enjoy and most importantly share the following links with others about the stories of“real” African American PR pioneers:
The Global Social Media News Service, a news-gathering, reporting and distribution company, proudly presents the stories of an overlooked and underreported group of African American communication pioneers.
Decades before Scandal’s Olivia Pope confidently sashayed across America’s television screens; had unchecked access to a fictional White House; and “fixed” the screw-ups of her former Boss-In-Chief and others, there were real African American men and women who practiced public relations, often in less glamorous surroundings and with considerably less fanfare. Before there was the celluloid Olivia, there was a real Moss Kendrix, D. Parke Gibson, Ofield Dukes and Pat Tobin.
Finally, there are many, many more men and women nationwide poised to take their places in Black PR history: Terrie Williams and former NBPRS President Deborah Hyman (New York); Bruce Crawley and current NBPRS President Richelle Payne (Philadelphia); Lauri Fitz, Gwen McKinney and Wendy Campbell (Washington, DC); David Thompson (Washington, DC); Michelle Flowers-Welch and NBPRS President Emeritus Wynona Redmond (Chicago); Jim Hill (Oakland); Kim Hunter (Los Angeles); and, of course, the “real” Oliva Pope, Judy Smith (Washington/Los Angeles).