IPR is featuring research and some of the many Black pioneers who have had an impact on the field of public relations in celebration of Black History Month.

Ofield Dukes was born in Rutledge, Alabama, in 1932. He graduated with a journalism degree from Wayne State University in 1958 after serving in the Army.

In 1961, after facing discrimination from Detroit’s white-owned newspapers, Dukes began writing for The Michigan Chronicle. His work at the Chronicle earned him three awards from the National Newspaper Publishers Association, an organization of black-owned newspapers based in Washington, D.C. 

Dukes went on to work for the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson and served as deputy director of public affairs for the White House Conference until 1969 when he opened his own PR agency, Ofield Dukes & Associates.

He served as a consultant to Democratic presidential candidates and was one of the first African Americans to serve on the party’s finance committee. In 1972, Dukes organized the first Congressional Black Caucus and played a key role in declaring a national holiday to honor Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. He founded the Black Public Relations Society of Washington and helped create the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation

In 2001, Dukes won the PRSA Gold Anvil Award, becoming the first African American to do so. He taught at Howard University for 17 years and American University for 8 years. He died in 2011 and was inducted into the PR Week Hall of Fame three years later.

PR Legend: Ofield Dukes
Ofield Dukes’s Biography
Ofield Dukes, prominent D.C. public relations figure, dies at 79
Ofield Dukes: Hall of Fame 2014

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