By: Ayanna Coard|Feb 26, 2021

As we celebrate Black history every day, we honor the outstanding men and women who made it possible for minorities to work in public relations today.

Inez Kaiser (1918 – 2016): Inez Kaiser is best known for being an educator and entrepreneur. In 1957, Kaiser quit her job as a home economics teacher, to later make history as the first Black woman to open a public relations firm in the United States and operate the first Black-owned business in Kansas City, Kansas.  After building her PR firm, she became the first Black woman to work with national clients, including 7-Up and Sears, and be a member of the Public Relations Society of America.

Moss Kendrix (1917 – 1989): Moss Kendrix is best known for educating national companies like The Coca-Cola Company on the importance and relevance of Black buying power. With expertise in public relations and advertisement, he pushed for the positive portrayal of minorities in the media. Through his efforts, he was able to improve The Coca-Cola Company’s connection and relatability to the Black community.

Patricia Tobin (1943 – 2008): In her 65 years of life, Patricia Tobin worked hard to create more opportunities and educate the world on how truly talented minorities are. She is the co-founder of the National Black Public Relations Society. Tobin used her platform to represent clients who wanted to engage with Black consumers. In 1983, Tobin quit her job and built her agency to create opportunities for minorities.

Joseph Varney Baker (1908 – 1993): Joseph Varney Baker is best known for mentoring many young students like  Rev. Barbara C. Harris, who later became the head of his PR firm, Joseph Varney Baker Associates. In 1934, Varney began to make history by being the first Black male to open a public relations firm in the country and become the president of the Philadelphia Public Relations Society of America, with a unanimous vote. His national clientele included The Pennsylvania Railroad, NBC, the Gillette Corporation, RCA, Chrysler and many others.

Barbara C. Harris (1930 – 2020): Harris worked closely with Joseph Varney Baker, and soon began to make her own history. After running the firm for 40 years, Baker passed on the torch to Barbara Harris. After retiring from the public relations industry, Harris became the first Black woman to be ordained as an Episcopal Church bishop.

These trailblazers have taught us the journey will never be easy, but in the end, it is all worth it. Today, we see countless young minority professionals thriving in the path their predecessors paved, so that a new legacy of trailblazers can serve as examples for future generations.


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