Friday, April 8, 2011

Smithsonian Accepts RPC Archives!

     "The Real Pepsi Challenge" didn't win any awards but it did garner huge honors. The first is obvious: allowing me to meet seven of the original members of the World War II-era Pepsi sales team that broke down color barriers in Corporate America. It was an incomparable and enriching experience, and way more fun than you would guess.
       It was also my great honor to eulogize team leader Edward F. Boyd, along with Mayor David Dinkins and others, from the pulpit of Riverside Church after he passed away April 30, 2007. Mr. Boyd was remembered in dozens of obituaries worldwide.
Philip Kane in training
      The latest honor came just this week, when the Smithsonian's National Museum of African-American History and Culture officially accepted into its selective permanent collection the 144-item archive that I had diligently amassed over several years before and after the writing of the book. 
Dear Bottler letter, 1951

      Among the material: I managed to collect 12 of the 13 original 1940s Ebony magazine ads critical to the early development of the concept of niche marketing. I also was delighted to have acquired the half-dozen letters and a training brochure written by Mr. Boyd at Pepsi during his leadership of the then-named Negro Market team, as well as the family archives of Philip Kane, of the second pre-war intern team at Pepsi. The Kane archives, respectfully kept by the widow and children of Mr. Kane, included everything from his 1941 paystubs and expense reports to rare photos and clippngs. I also appreciate the kind donation of former adman Adrian Hirschorn of a 1949 article he wrote for Printers' Ink trade magazine about the trailblazing Pepsi effort.
       I am indebted to the Queens Museum of Art and to Pepsi diversity chief Mauice Cox for helping me realize the full potential of the archives as an exhibition and as a permanent collection. I guest curated a popular show at the QMA in 2008.
        It is a fitting tribute to the groundbreaking and visionary work of the Pepsi men that their legacy be preserved in America's finest museum. The African-American history museum is set to be opened in Washington about the year 2014, so stay tuned.


  1. Congratulations. What a wonderful way to recognize these incredible individuals. To have their efforts and contributions memorialized in NMAAHC's collection is a fitting tribute. Their "first" was as important as any other endeavor, whether it was baseball or Hollywood. And to think it got its start with the old African American tradition of "story-telling" at the reunion. I can't wait for the opening.
    Maurice Cox

  2. Congratulations! I know the process was competitive and I am so happy that what my parents kept was able to be added to your collection of originals. Your research and scholarship documents another "first" chapter in African American History. I so look forward to the opening.

  3. Thank you for all your hard and dedication to telling the story. We look forward to the opening, movie and/or mini-series.