It shouldn’t have been surprising that Roy Eaton, a Korean War veteran who could double as copywriter and composer, got a job on Madison Avenue back in 1955.
But Eaton was black and is believed to be the first African-American to work in a big mainstream agency.
It’s Black History month in the US and Geoff Edwards, one of the founders of the DOJO agency in San Francisco, has tracked him down at 80. Among other things Eaton describes the warm welcome he received at Young & Rubicam and the support the agency gave him when he was seriously injured in a car accident in which he lost his wife. Medical care in the US then (as now) was an expensive business.
Eaton was evidently a pretty mean adman too as Edwards’ full interview here for Creativity makes clear. It’s a fascinating tale.