Friday, April 1, 2011

The Ronald H. Brown building at the U.N.

  On Tues., March 29, President Obama visited NYC to dedicate the U.S. Mission to the U.N. to the late Secretary of Commerce in the Clinton administration, Ron Brown.
   It is a remarkable honor for someone who was never an ambassador. Rather, he was honored, Obama said, because "he embodied the values and the ideals," of the U.S., and the U.N., during a lifetime of counseling disadvantaged kids, fighting for workers and helping minority businesses.
    "The American Dream, he always believed, rightfully belongs to every child in this nation," the president said of Mr. Brown.
     Ron Brown began doing his part to ensure that dream was inclusive from an early age. The boy on the jacket of "The Real Pepsi Challenge" is Ron Brown. He was the son of William Brown, the manager of the Theresa hotel in Harlem and a friend of Pepsi sales chief Edward F. Boyd. Mr. Boyd decided to cast the handsome young man in a point-of-purchase ad for his Negro Market effort.
     The resulting tableau--starring one of the first black professional models, Sylvia Fitt--showed a happy, comfortable middle-class American family enjoying that American Dream. It was a rare image in marketing campaigns in any media in the late 1940s. Mr. Boyd joked that friends of the family had worried the young and precocious child who ran around the hotel lobby and bar "would come to no good." The young Brown proved their fears groundless when, to everyone's surprise, he was poised, cooperative, and professional during the entire shoot.
      Ron Brown cherished the ad, and kept it on display in his office in Washington. After he was killed on a trade mission to Croatia in 1996, his mother returned the ad to Mr. Boyd. You can see the jacket cover below. Here is the full ad:

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