Thanks: African American PR Pioneers who shaped our profession

Ida B. Wells-Barnett

When I prepared for my Accredited Public Relations (APR) exams (oral & written) via the Public Relations Society of America , we read and talked about the history of the profession and the notables who shaped our industry.

I learned that Sam Adams moved and manipulated public opinion during the Revolutionary War. Alexander Hamilton published 85 Federalist letters urging ratification of the Constitution.

Amos Kendall served President Andrew Jackson’s “Kitchen Cabinet” as pollster, counselor, publicist and ghostwriter.

P.T. Barnum was a canny “press agent” showman who leveraged publicity for his Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.  

Bayard Rustin

Bayard Rustin
Parker & Lee opened the first public relations firm in New York City in 1904.

And Edward Bernays (who I had the pleasure of spending a day with in his Cambridge home) wrote many books about public relations, coined the term “public relations counsel,” and advised Presidents and CEOs.

But I never learned about notable African Americans who were influential in the formation of the PR industry.  

But now, thanks to Marcia Taylor from Norfolk State University, I know there were many

Inez Kaiser

African American PR pioneers. Her post in celebration of Black History Month made me smarter:

I now know that Ida B. Wells-Barnett promoted women’s suffrage and the abolition of lynching.

I learned that Bayard Rustin was the social cause strategist who organized the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom where Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his “I have a dream” speech.

And I know Inez Kaiser founded the first African-American, female-owned PR firm in America.

Thanks Marcia and PRSA, and congratulations to all the pioneers who should be recognized for their contributions to the PR industry. 

Just a salute to Public Relations' African-American Pioneers who should be recognized for their contributions to the PR industry.
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