Let's March Forward Together: The Rise of Black Advertising Professionals and Consumers


"Boys like girls who make Seven-Up 'Floats'"
“I like the Sprite® in you”
“Always Coca-Cola”

Let's March Forward Together explores how Black men and women in the advertising industry helped to create a more positive and inclusive consumer culture. The exhibit focuses in particular on the work of five Black advertising executives whose papers are held by the Rubenstein Library's Hartman Center.

  • Allen McKellar (1920-2018): Sales and marketing executive for Pepsi-Cola and later Falstaff Brewing Company.
  • Roy Eaton (1930-): Child prodigy and concert pianist who composed memorable jingles for national brands at mainstream agencies. Later founded his own company, Roy Eaton Music, Inc.
  • Archie Boston (1943-): Graphic designer and educator with a confrontational style who founded two Black- owned design firms and taught graphic design at Cal State Long Beach.
  • Tom Burrell (1939-): Copywriter and creative executive at several prominent agencies before opening his own, Burrell Communications, which grew to be the largest Black-owned agency in the U.S.
  • Steve Climons (1950-): Senior creative executive at multiple New York ad agencies before founding two agencies in California focused on advertising and public service messaging.

We have also included the work of two notable Black women, Caroline Jones and Carol H. Williams, who worked in advertising. Though their papers are not here at Duke, we recognize the contributions of many Black women in advertising.

In telling these stories, the exhibit follows three historical threads that characterized race relations in post- Reconstruction America: segregation, integration, and cultural distinction. Segregation gave rise to a vibrant if inscribed Black economy. Integration and the desire to participate fully in American social, economic, and political life animated much of the civil rights movement, which in turn led to more advertising targeted at Black consumers. Finally, segregation and the struggle for identity produced a set of distinctly Black American cultural forms, aesthetics, and sensibilities that increasingly demanded to be heard, seen, and experienced in the form of ads and acknowledgement as unique consumers.

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