Vote Every Day for VAM's Top Ten Endangered Artifacts
The Virginia Association of Museums (VAM) announced its Top Ten Endangered Artifacts list for 2021 and the Moss Kendrix Collection at the Alexandria Black History Museum made the grade! Now we need your help in voting for this vital collection of photographs, documents and objects that chart the career and passions of a man known as the Father of Black Public Relations, to fund its long-term conservation and preservation needs.
Now in its ninth year, the VAM Top Ten Endangered Artifact program allows the public to vote for the artifact they would like to see conserved. The artifact with the most online votes will receive the People’s Choice Award of $1000 for conservation and/or preservation and then after voting has ended, the Selection Committee will present $1000 for the artifact deemed most deserving. The remaining organizations will receive $250 for conservation and/or professional development.
This year VAM has chosen the theme, “Conserving Diversity,“ to highlight Virginia's underrepresented communities and to tell the lesser-known stories from history. We think Moss Kendrix would approve!
Who was Moss Kendrix?
A man with a vision, Moss Kendrix set up a public relations firm, the Moss H. Kendrix Organization, in 1948 to promote a new approach in marketing – appealing to African American consumers with positive and aspirational advertising campaigns, featuring African American models and stars. Placed in African American newspapers and publications, they appealed directly to readers in a new and empowering way.
Through his public relations work, Kendrix helped to change the way African Americans were depicted in the media. In his advertising campaigns, he appealed to mid-century African Americans by reflecting their reality, where stereotypes or absence had gone
The Moss Kendrix Collection includes over 900 photographs and a wide range of documents including correspondence, scripts, advertisements, press releases, programs, magazines, reports, and newspaper clippings from around the country, including Virginia. Unfortunately, some of the collection has been damaged by prior water and moisture exposure. This has caused staining, curling, and losses to the fragile photographs and documents. Additionally, the paperclips, staples, and glue originally used by Kendrix in creating his archive has left stains and acid burns, damaging and disfiguring the items. Conservation work will help to clean, stabilize, and preserve this important collection for future generations.
Some of the collection has been photographed or scanned and the archive is available to researchers, but the Alexandria Black History Museum hopes in the future to digitize the entire collection to increase access to this amazing collection.
Click on the image or on this link to view the slideshow illustrating some of the damage to the collection.
Make a donation to the Alexandria Black History Museum. If you would like to direct your donation to the Moss Kendrix conservation project, please make a note under Comments on the donation page.
In addition to a company archive, the Moss Kendrix Collection contains Kendrix’s personal archive. He amassed a large collection of press clippings, magazines, newspapers and other publications documenting the African American experience in the mid-20th century. This includes clippings about politics, current affairs, civil rights, sports, and the work of organizations such as the NAACP. It also includes publications such as the Go Guide to Pleasant Motoring. Like the Green Book, the Go Guide was an essential tool for the African American traveler during the Jim Crow era.
Moss Kendrix also had his own radio show on Sunday nights on WWDC in Washington, D.C. The 15-minute broadcast included commentary on subjects like international politics, national affairs, or civil rights, and interviews with prominent personalities in the news, such as journalists, editors, members of Congress, governors, and “leaders in American thought.” The collection includes scripts for his radio shows.
Kendrix’s organization created advertising campaigns for companies such as Carnation Milk and Coca-Cola. The collection contains a wealth of documents and photographs from these campaigns, including handwritten and drawn mock-ups. His campaigns would also feature promotional events and
sponsorship at sporting and other events.
A colossal bunburger! Carnation Milk partnered with Schneider-Sunbeam for a “bunburger” campaign to promote using evaporated milk in the hamburger meat and burger buns. Moss Kendrix was involved in the publicity, which included the creation of a huge 28” x 36” bun
and hamburger, served to a group of YMCA campers. This recipe will feed 80 of your closest friends. Feel free to divide it by 80 for a single serving.
NAACP Convention Press Release
Moss Kendrix wrote press releases reporting on conferences, conventions, sporting events and meetings and sent them with photographs or original photo montages of the events to African American newspapers and magazines. This press release is about the 1954 NAACP Convention in Dallas, Texas, where The Coca-Cola Company
provided complimentary Coke to attendees.
The Moss Kendrix Legacy
The work of Moss Kendrix and the collection at ABHM have appeared in the following books: Madison Avenue and the Color Line: African Americans in the Advertising Industry by Dr. Jason Chambers and Represented: The Black Imagemakers Who Reimagined African American Citizenship by Dr. Breena Wynn Greer. Check back later at the ABHM homepage for further details of Greer’s upcoming lecture. Kendrix will also appear in a new book by Dr. Denise Hill later this year.
The Moss Kendrix Collection was also featured in the recent Historic Alexandria Winter Portal. The portal explored the winter theme through City museums and collections. In this video on winter advertising, see more documents and photographs from the extensive Kendrix Collection, including some with festive recipes.
Click on the image to view the video.
The Moss Kendrix Collection is a microcosm of mid-20thcentury African American life and an invaluable repository of the African American experience. Moss Kendrix revolutionized the advertising industry, reimagined and repositioned the African American image in the media, and paved the way for the diversity of actors and models who today are featured in print ads and billboards, television and radio commercials.
Moss Kendrix: pioneer, trailblazer, visionary. Out of the Attic, originally published in the Alexandria Times, February 20, 2020
The Moss Kendrix Collection at the Black History Museum. Out of the Attic, originally published in the Alexandria Times, January 14, 2021.
Through his work Moss Kendrix met many famous faces – how many can you recognize?
Click on the image or on this link: The Moss Kendrix Collection: -- Guess Who?