Slideshow: When Pepsi Broke the Color Barrier

On the show today, Allen McKellar told us about his adventures as an African-American salesman of Pepsi in the Jim Crow South.

Images from that era on display now at the Queens Museum of Art and in Stephanie Capparell's book The Real Pepsi Challenge.

It's sobering to think that showing black families in advertising could have been quite so pioneering. (Listener challenge: Spot the future U.S. Secretary of Commerce.)

Thanks to Laura Silver for putting this slideshow together.



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Ron Brown wasn't one of the salesman, but he is the little boy in the Pepsi ad, carrying the case for his mother. That story about his start is a famous part of his biography.

Sent by Matthew C. Scallon | 5:03 PM | 7-7-2008

As an African American I thank you for that bit of Black history. I grew up in Ohio in the 50's and realized that the only cola my family drank was Pepsi.

Sent by Wanda Willis | 10:12 PM | 7-7-2008

Thank you for this piece--I found this peek at (to me) an unknown story of history very interesting!

Sent by Jack | 2:07 PM | 7-8-2008