Jason P. Chambers
biography and history
Advertising Revolutionary: The Life and Work of Tom Burrell
Over a forty-year career, Chicagoan Tom Burrell changed the face of advertising and revolutionized the industry’s approach to African Americans as human beings and consumers. Jason P. Chambers offers a biography of the groundbreaking creator and entrepreneur that explores Burrell’s role in building brands like McDonald’s and Coca-Cola within a deeply felt vision of folding positive images of black people into mainstream American life. While detailing Burrell’s successes, Chambers tells a parallel story of what Burrell tried to do that sheds light on the motivations of advertising creators who viewed their work as being about more than just selling. Chambers also highlights how Burrell used his entrepreneurial gifts to build an agency that opened the door for black artists, copywriters, directors, and other professionals to earn livings, build careers, and become leaders within the industry.
Compelling and multidimensional, Advertising Revolutionary combines archival research and interviews with Burrell and his colleagues to provide a long-overdue portrait of an advertising industry legend and his times.
Madison Avenue and the Color Line: African Americans in the Advertising Industry
Until now, most works on the history of African Americans in advertising have focused on the depiction of blacks in advertisements. As the first comprehensive examination of African American participation in the industry, Madison Avenue and the Color Line breaks new ground by examining the history of black advertising employees and agency owners.
For much of the twentieth century, even as advertisers chased African American consumer dollars, the doors to most advertising agencies were firmly closed to African American professionals. Over time, black participation in the industry resulted from the combined efforts of black media, civil rights groups, black consumers, government organizations, and black advertising and marketing professionals working outside white agencies. Blacks positioned themselves for jobs within the advertising industry, especially as experts on the black consumer market, and then used their status to alter stereotypical perceptions of black consumers. By doing so, they became part of the broader effort to build an African American professional and entrepreneurial class and to challenge the negative portrayals of blacks in American culture.
Using an extensive review of advertising trade journals, government documents, and organizational papers, as well as personal interviews and the advertisements themselves, Jason Chambers weaves individual biographies together with broader events in U.S. history to tell how blacks struggled to bring equality to the advertising industry.
Building the Black Metropolis: African American Entrepreneurship in Chicago
From Jean Baptiste Point DuSable to Oprah Winfrey, black entrepreneurship has helped define Chicago. Robert E. Weems Jr. and Jason P. Chambers curate a collection of essays that place the city as the center of the black business world in the United States. Ranging from titans like Anthony Overton and Jesse Binga to McDonald’s operators to black organized crime, the scholars shed light on the long-overlooked history of African American work and entrepreneurship since the Great Migration. Together they examine how factors like the influx of southern migrants and the city’s unique segregation patterns made Chicago a prolific incubator of productive business development—and made building a black metropolis as much a necessity as an opportunity.