Barbara Proctor, the first black woman to own an ad agency, dies at 86

Source: The Lily | Adapted from a story by The Washington Post’s Emily Langer.

Barbara Proctor was born in North Carolina in 1932, where, she would say years later, she suffered through “sheer, no-electricity, no-running-water poverty.” Yet she would go on to climb the ranks of the white- and male-dominated advertising industry in the 1960s, eventually becoming the first African American woman to own and operate an advertising agency.

As the sole founder of Proctor and Gardner Advertising, Proctor regarded advertising as the most powerful means of communication with the American public and vowed never to participate in the negative portrayal of women or black people. She had been married to and divorced from Carl Proctor before she opened Proctor and Gardner Advertising and used her married surname for her business, she said, because it suggested that a man was participating in operations.

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