IPR is featuring some of the many Black American pioneers and modern-day heroes to celebrate Black History Month.

Joseph Varney Baker was born on Aug. 20, 1908, in Abbeville, South Carolina. Baker moved to Philadelphia as a teenager, graduated from Central High School, and went on to study journalism at Temple University.

His career began as a reporter at the Philadelphia Tribune, a Black newspaper still published today, and eventually worked his way up to become city editor. He was also the first Black journalist to write for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

After leaving his position as the city editor at the Philadelphia Tribune, he worked as a public relations consultant for the Pennsylvania Railroad. This move led him to start the first Black-owned PR firm in 1934, Joseph V. Baker and Associates. His firm specialized in PR, marketing, and advertising aimed at Black audiences.

Baker was also active in politics for many years and served as an assistant to Richard Nixon’s campaign staff when he ran for president against John F. Kennedy. Baker also worked as the director of the Division of Negro Research and Planning for the Pennsylvania State Department of Labor and Industry, then as the director of Negro Work for the Republican State Committee.

Baker died at 84 years old in his Germantown, Pennsylvania home on May 7, 1993.


Remembering the diverse pioneers of PR: Joseph Varney Baker
PR Daily

Black PR Pioneers
PR Museum

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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