His Light Still Shines: Corporate Advertisers and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday

James West

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines a sample of 91 commemorative adverts published in Black consumer magazines Black Enterprise and Ebony between 1981 and 1991 to explore how corporate advertisers responded to the creation of a federal holiday for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in November 1983, and first officially celebrated in January 1986, the King holiday provided advertisers with an opportunity to honor King and celebrate his historical significance; something which fed into broader efforts by North American corporations to showcase their understanding and appreciation of Black history and, by extension, the Black consumer market. However, the multivalent tone of these commemorative features can be situated within ongoing and hotly contested debates over the meaning of King's activism and legacy, revealing the complex relationship between corporate social responsibility, Black history, commemorative advertising, and political messaging.
Original languageEnglish
Article number788622
JournalAdvertising & Society Quarterly
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2021


Dive into the research topics of 'His Light Still Shines: Corporate Advertisers and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this