National Alliance of Market Developers

History of NAMD

The National Association of Market Developers (NAMD) was launched in 1953 at Tennessee State University by Moss Kendrix. According to Moss Kendrix, Jr., the association was viewed by his father as a support group for minorities in the public relations field. The association is still in operation today.

In 1954, the NAMD was incorporated in the District of Columbia by Kendrix, Wendell P. Alston, Esso Standard Oil Company, Alvin J. Talley, H. Naylor Fitzhugh, Howard University Marketing Professor, an associate of the Moss Kendrix Organization who became vice president of PepsiCo, and Raymond S. Scruggs, American Telephone and Telegraph Company.

A good deal of early marketing was done essentially through Black organizational life. The morticians, the doctors, the lawyers, the insurance companies, the news media, fraternal groups, beauticians, teacher associations and others all had state or national meetings. We would take exhibit booths at their conventions, display company information and give out souvenirs. Some companies sponsored breakfasts or lunches and gave out awards to organizational leaders. Coke and Pepsi and the tobacco companies did product sampling at the booths and in hospitality suites. At these conventions, we at Esso also distributed a booklet that was in great demand among Negroes at the time. It was called the Green Book and listed the establishments mainly in the South where Blacks could find lodgings and food without going to the back door. It also listed the Esso stations where one could use the restroom facilities. Anyone traveling the southern routes in those days knew of the value of having a copy of the Green Book with them. That booklet prevented some very serious racial incidents.

The conventions of Black organizations were places where the national marketers would meet and informally discuss common problems and needs. It was in 1952 that a group of these national representatives formed a special committee for the sole purpose of devising a means by which a sales and marketing organization could be developed. The next year the National Association of Market Developers, Inc. (NAMD) was created. The first organizational meeting was held in 1954 at Tennessee State A&I University in Nashville. The main purpose was to improve the specialized marketing and public relations programs which important U.S. firms were directing to the Negro consumer market. The NAMD sought to promote an exchange of information and experiences among the various individuals and firms who had major professional interest in this field. It also promoted local, state, regional and national activities to the professional benefit of the members. The organization, still in existence today, sought to encourage members not only to do their best to promote good images of their companies but to avail themselves of the opportunity to tell top management what the Negro wanted and expected in terms of greater participation in all phases of business life. The NAMD was of critical importance to all of us. At that time it was the only organized means by which updated marketing theories and techniques were brought to the attention of those working in the Negro market.

The expansion in the recruitment and hiring of Blacks for white collar positions other than the Negro market specialist jobs that began around 1960 was not due to an enlightened corporate view of what was right to do, it stemmed from the emergence of some important economic considerations.

Dr. Martin Luther King was drawing increasing attention to the important fight for human rights. The sit-in movements that began in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1959 pointed strongly to the vulnerability of white establishments to organized protest. Of great importance were the selective patronage campaigns organized by various local ministerial associations. These ministerial groups pressured companies by using their pulpits to announce economic boycotts they called "selective patronage campaigns." The idea was to purchase the products and services of only those companies that recruited, employed and upgraded Blacks. The boycotts were aimed essentially at those companies that had products with a high consumption level in Black communities such as gasoline and soft drinks.

This put considerable pressure on companies that found their sales plummeting in Black areas in cities where the campaigns took place. Another important factor was the Plans for Progress Program initiated by the Johnson Administration in 1961. It was a plan to commit companies with government contracts to aggressively promote and implement equal employment opportunity without regard to race, religion, color or creed. It was a plan that sought to end discrimination in hiring and provide job opportunities for all based upon merit. Because of the fear of losing lucrative government contracts, companies by the droves signed up with the Plans for Progress Program.

By 1963, the Negro Market in the United States was approximately 21 million strong and had a purchasing power estimated by the U. S. Department of Commerce of $21.1 billion. No longer could large-scale businesses treat the Negro market with indifference, although there was no evidence that the element of race was being eliminated as an economic and social factor. Special market programs began to be replaced by more thoughtful market programming. More and more companies began to bring their full marketing strategies to bear upon gaining acceptance and marketplace advantage with this growing market. More companies, sensitive to Black consumer behavior, began to place advertisements in Black media. Others, more budget conscious, turned to integrated advertising that could be effectively directed toward the whole market, black and white.

What we see today, particularly in sales promotion, public relations and marketing, with African Americans holding and mastering all kinds of executive level positions would eventually have happened at some time. But the work of those in the early years set a standard and laid the important groundwork. In so many ways, Blacks in corporate America today are standing on the backs of Black men and women who were part of some very important economic history.