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Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben, and Rastus

Blacks in Advertising, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

by Marilyn Kern-Foxworth,


. . . This is one of those books which offers a collection of information that is long overdue and chronicles the history of blacks in two critical areas that have been previously under recorded--advertising and public relations. . . . This book provides a mirror to our past--a past that has been ignored or overshadowed for too long. From the Foreword by Alex Haley

Print Flyer
Cover image for Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben, and Rastus

July 1994


Pages 256
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Popular Culture/Media, Television, and Radio

This book provides a mirror to our past--a past that has been ignored or overshadowed for too long. From the foreword by Alex Haley

Kern-Foxworth chronicles the stereotypical portrayals of Blacks in advertising from the turn of the century to the present. Beginning with slave advertisements, she discusses how slavery led naturally to the stereotypes found in early advertisements. From the end of the slave era to the culmination of the Civil Rights movement, advertising portrayed Blacks as Aunt Jemimas, Uncle Bens, and Rastuses, and the author explores the psychological impact of these portrayals. With the advent of the Civil Rights movement, organizations such as CORE and NAACP voiced their opposition and became active in the elimination of such advertising. In the final chapters, the volume examines the reactions of consumers to integrated advertising and the current role of Blacks in advertising. Its truly novel subject matter and its inclusion of vintage and contemporary advertisements featuring Blacks make this a valuable work.

Table of Contents

DedicationForeword by Alex HaleyPrefaceIntroductionSlave Advertisements: A Mirror to the "Peculiar Institution"Memories of the Way We Were: Blacks in Early AdvertisingMyths, Lies, and Stereotypes: Black Advertising Symbols, Characters, and ModelsAunt Jemima: The Most Battered Woman in America Rises to the TopInvisible Consumers: Gaining Equal Representation for Blacks in AdvertisingSeparate But Definitely Not Equal: Frequency of Blacks in AdvertisingBlacks in Advertising: Critics Give Two Thumbs UpEpilogue: Colorizing Advertising: A 21st Century ChallengeAppendix: African-American Museums and Resource CentersSelected BibliographyIndex



A book that the reader will use for its exposure of the texts and graphics of the history of advertising as they applied to African Americans and as a compendium of data written in a catchy journalistic style. Choice

Chronicles African Americans' first appearances in advertisements in the United the modern celebrity endorsement spots of Michael Jordan and Bill Cosby....A well-researched and -written book....The author does an excellent job of exploring the nuances of racial stereotyping....Recommended for history, black studies, and media studies collections.Library Journal

Kern-foxworth surveys the history of African-American stereotypes in advertising from the beginnings of the American colonies, before advertising became massified, to the present...well-organized literature reviews... Journal of Communication

Read Kern-Foxworth if you want to understand how the tricks of imagery that we all can see actually work.Black Issues in Higher Education

...chronicles the historical evolution of African Americans in advertising. Kern-Foxworth's book is powerful and explains how the images of Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben, and Rastus have aided and promoted negative stereotyping of African Americans.Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media

Marilyn Kern-Foxworth has given us something sorely missed--a rich and provocative compendium that chronicles blacks in American advertising from the colonial period to the present.American Journalism

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