Moss Kendrix


The Life and Legacy of Moss Kendrix

The Coca-Cola Years

The Coca-Cola Proposal

The National Association of Market Developers

SPECIAL REPORT: The Changing Face of the Urban Markets

The African-American Image Abroad: Golly, It's Good!

The African-American Image in Advertising

The Advertiser's Holy Trinity: Aunt Jemima, Rastus, and Uncle Ben

A Distorted Reflection: African-Americans and Beauty Products

The Times They Are A-Changing 1960 - 1990

The Advertising Future for African-Americans

What the Public Thinks, Counts

The Alexandria Black History Museum


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About Moss Kendrix

Moss Kendrix was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1917. His early education was obtained through the local public schools, and he counted future entertainer Lena Horne as one of his close childhood friends. He later attended Atlanta's Morehouse College, a respected college for African-American men.

Kendrix made corporate America aware of the buying power of African-Americans, as well as the need to tap this powerful market for employment opportunities.
Kendrix was a popular college student, who became the editor of the Morehouse newspaper The Maroon Tiger, and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. He was also the co-founder of the Phi Delta Delta Journalism Society, the first and only society of its kind for African-American journalism students. In 1939, just after graduating from Morehouse, Kendrix created National Negro Newspaper Week. He was accepted into Howard University's Law School in 1939, but opted to gain work experience. That same year, he married Dorothy Marie Johnson, a student at Spellman College, the sister school to Morehouse. They had two sons, Moss Kendrix, Jr. and Alan Kendrix.

Drafted in 1941, Kendrix served in the United States Army. During that period he worked for the Treasury Department in the War Finance Office and traveled across the country with African American celebrities promoting war bonds, and often appeared on radio shows for the CBS network. Two of his favorite celebrity spokespersons were composer/musician Duke Ellington and singer Billy Eckstine.

In 1944, Moss Kendrix became the director of public relations for the Republic of Liberia's Centennial Celebration, and his successful work for this event is believed to have been the inspiration for his future career in public relations.

That same year, he founded his own public relations firm, The Moss Kendrix Organization. The company motto, "What the Public Thinks Counts!" was also his mantra, which he embossed on the organization's letterhead. Based in Washington, D.C., the organization was in charge of major accounts targeting African-American consumers. The Coca-Cola Company, Carnation, the National Dental Association, the National Educational Association, the Republic of Liberia, and Ford Motor Company were all clients of the firm. In addition to his corporate work, Moss was also the host of a weekly radio program, "Profiles of Our Times," on WWDC for many years.

The Moss Kendrix Organization gradually phased out of operation in the 1970s, but the legacy of his work continues to live on. Moss Kendrix died in December, 1989.


The Legacy of Moss Kendrix

The impact that Moss Kendrix left on the world of advertising can be seen everywhere. Billboards, magazine advertisements, television commercials, and radio ads routinely use positive images African-American actors, models, and voice over artists to sell products.

Kendrix made corporate America aware of the buying power of African-Americans

Without the initiative of Moss Kendrix and others in his field, African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics, Native-Americans and other minorities would not be represented as fully in print ads, on television, or in the movies. Kendrix made corporate America aware of the buying power of African-Americans, as well as the need to tap this powerful market for employment opportunities. This, in turn, opened up the arena for other minorities.

Improvements in the portrayal of minorities continue to occur every day. Today, the legacy of Moss Kendrix lives on in the National Association of Market Developers and other professional groups he helped to create, and in the goals and successes of African-Americans in the field of public relations.


Washington--President John F. Kennedy greeted members of the Capital Press Club at the White House last weekend when he found he couldn't attend the club's annual awards luncheon.

The President received the group of about thirty newsmen and women in the Rose Garden Just outside the executive offices and was presented a gold membership card by Dolphin Thompson, the club's retiring president.

Otis N. Thompson, press club president-elect, presented honorary memberships to Pierre Salinger, White House Press Secretary, and his assistant, Andrew Hatcher. Mr. Kennedy accepted for Mr. Hatcher, who was en route to Paris.

The annual awards luncheon was thrown into a guessing game when it was announced that "Miss Helen E. Batiste" was winner of the club's "Journalist of the Year" award. Judges made the selection of "her" work as "an outstanding job on a limited budget."

"Miss Batiste" turned out to be Ernest Goodman who has done publicity for the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs, Inc., without the knowledge of club members. Mr. Goodman is director of Information Services at Howard University.

Moss H. Kendrix (in red circle)

Other Awards went for Community Relations -- Mrs. Ruth B. Spencer, former member of the District Board of Education; Human Relations -- Mortimer C. Lebowitz, president, Morton's Stores; Mass Communication -- Miss Era Bell Thompson, editor of Ebony magazine; Civil Rights -- Joseph L. Rauh, Jr., District's Democratic State Central Committee's vice-chairman.

Citations went to the Rev. James Robinson, pastor, Church of the Master, New York, and leader of Operation Crossroads Africa; Mrs. Pearlie Cox Harrison, retired society editor, Washington Afro-American;

Citizens for the Presidential Vote of D. C., a group award, and the Rev. Laurence Henry, head of the District's Non-Violent Action Group and leader of last year's sit-ins in near-by Maryland and Virginia.

At the Press Institute a panel on the subject "Africa -- Challenge to Mass Media," concluded that the matter of semantics in the communication of concepts is one of the major problems confronting American mass media today.

Space limitations in newspapers, group stereotypes and the general public disinterest in most foreign affairs were also cited as problems facing the press in reporting on African as well as other foreign news.

Panelists included Alfred Friendly, managing editor, Washington Post, Era Bell Thompson, Ebony magazine; Dr. Otto Schaler, American University, and Albert Q. Smart-Abbey, African correspondent.