IPR is featuring some of the many Black pioneers who have had an impact on the field of public relations in celebration of Black History Month.
D. Parke Gibson was born in 1930 in Seattle, Washington. Gibson graduated from City College and also received an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from King Memorial College in South Carolina.
Gibson began his career as an advertising representative for Interstate Newspapers. In 1956 Gibson became the manager of public relations for Johnson Publishing Co., before joining Sengstacke Publications as promotions director in 1960. Gibson established the first Black-owned PR firm, D. Parke Gibson International, in New York. Among his clients were Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation, Miller Brewing Company, and Pan American World Airways.
Gibson is also known for his groundbreaking published work on race relations called The Gibson Report, a marketing guide on the Black consumer market.
Through his publications and strategic counsel, Gibson was instrumental in getting corporate executives to better understand Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination by employers on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
He also used his publications to point out the economic advantages of corporations developing specific strategies and programs to tap into the influential African-American market. He published “$70 Billion in the Black,” a comprehensive guide to the black consumer market. In 1969, Gibson published “The $30 Billion Negro,” an examination of the strength of the African-American consumer.
Gibson made history by paving the way for Black PR professionals and through his insight into the Black consumer market. Gibson died from a heart attack in 1979 at the age of 49.
Celebrating the Memory of D. Parke Gibson