Breaking Barriers

 Women who choose to control their own destiny were viewed to be violating the natural order of life, the way everyone knew things were supposed to be. These women persevered against odds that were overwhelming, and they triumphed.  

Barbara Gardner Proctor was working in an advertising agency in 1969 and the  agency was creating an ad that made African American woman look foolish.  A staff member assigned Barbara Gardner Proctor, a black woman, to work on the campaign.  She said she would never do that and was fired.  She knew if she didn’t take matters into her own hands, she would be looking for a job on a regular basis. 

A year later, she became the first black woman in the United states to found her own ad agency. Eventually she built Proctor and Gardner into a multimillion-dollar company.  She started with nothing, borrowed $1,000. from a friend to rent an office over a pizza shop, then went to the Small Business Association for a loan.  When they asked her what she had for collateral she replied “me”.  She got an $8,000 loan and 6 months later, got her first account, Jewel Foods, a Chicago grocery chain. Barbara Gardner Proctor knew the social impact of advertising. She refused to create ads or work with products she thought were detrimental toward women or black people. Cigarettes and hard liquor were some of the products she would not represent. 

Barbara Gardner Proctor passed away on December 19th, 2018 at 86 years old. A legendary pioneer in advertising she inspires us to believe in ourselves even when all odds are against us.    Thank you Barbara Gardner Proctor.

Thanks to Neil Genzlinger NY Times Obituaries for today’s content

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