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Buying Power report: Blacks spend as economy grows
New 16th edition shows $507 bil in spending

The finding comes from the 16th annual edition of "The Buying Power of Black America" report. In 2009, black households spent an estimated $507 billion in 27 product and services categories. ...

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Former Rep. Cardiss Collins, who championed advertising, media issues, dies at 81

(February 7, 2013) Cardiss H. Collins, former U.S. Congresswoman from Illinois, and the first African-American woman from the Midwest to serve in the House of Representatives, died on Sunday, February 3 in Alexandria, VA, 15 years after retiring from Congress. She was 81.

Collins was elected to Congress in June 1973 in a special election to replace her husband, George, who had died in the December 1972 United Airlines Flight plane crash. After winning with 92 percent of the vote, Collins went on to serve in Congress for nearly 25 years. She is widely respected for her legislative successes in securing the rights of minorities and women.

For many years Collins was the strongest advocate in Congress for African-Americans on media and marketing issues, and she was the first to hold hearings challenging programming and ownership in broadcasting.

"She was a shrewd and perceptive warrior who believed strongly in the rights blacks and women," said Eddie Arnold, Collin's former director of communications and public information. "She had a major concern about the image of black people in the media and she had a big impact on improving that image."

"Those of us in NABOB who knew her personally were deeply saddened by the recent passing of former Congresswoman Cardiss Collins," said Jim Winston, Executive Director and General Counsel of the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters. "Congresswoman Collins was one of NABOB's earliest allies in promoting minority ownership of broadcast stations." 

As the only African-American member of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, in the mid-1980s, Congresswoman Collins held a Congressional hearing on "No Urban Dictates" when an ad agency sent out a written avail with the "no urban" language included.  As a result, Congresswoman Collins introduced a bill in Congress proposing that any advertiser found to be engaging in advertising discrimination could not deduct the cost of such advertising as a business expense.

"The hearing that Congresswoman Collins held in the mid-1980s was my first time testifying before Congress," said Winston. "It made me feel like someone at the highest level of government cared about what NABOB had to say and was fighting for our issues. I will always be grateful for all she did for us while she was in Congress."

Collins was the first to convene Congressional hearings on the millions spent by the federal government on advertising. She formed the Advertising Fairness Task Force and in 1989 Collins ordered a General Accounting Office study on ad expenditures. The results revealed that, contrary to mandatory provisions of federal law, the Dept. of Defense, which accounted for most of the $166 million spent in federal advertising, "did not use small disadvantaged advertising firms as prime contractors and made only minimal use of small disadvantaged firms as subcontractors," the GAO report said.

"Congresswoman Collins took a principled and courageous position against discrimination in the advertising industry at a time when no other Member of Congress had the courage to take on Madison Avenue or Hollywood," said Adonis Hoffman, an attorney and professor at Georgetown University. He served as a Congressional and FCC lawyer and is the former SVP and Corporate Counsel at the American Association of Advertising Agencies. 

"She supported policies to advance the rights of African-Americans in the media, advertising, marketing and communications industries, and became known as the conscience of Congress on these issues," said Hoffman. "Even after Congress, Mrs. Collins continued to lend leadership on the struggle for equality in communications.  She will be greatly missed."

In 2004, Collins was selected by Nielsen Media Research to head a task force examining the representation of African Americans in TV rating samples.

"Many of us at Nielsen had the good fortune to work with Congresswoman Collins when she chaired an Independent Task Force on Television Measurement," said Susan Whiting, Vice Chair of The Nielsen Co. "She worked with Nielsen and several community and industry leaders to help ensure national and local television viewership samples were representative of the diverse TV viewing audience."

"She will forever be remembered as a leader, a pioneer and a respected figure in the United States Congress, in Illinois and in the African American community," said Whiting. "Ms. Collins shared valuable perspective and important insights as part of the Task Force; for that we remain grateful.  Our deepest sympathies go out to Congresswoman Collins' family. We are honored to have known and worked with her."

A memorial service for Congresswoman Collins will be held on Monday, February 11, 11:00 am at the Alfred Street Baptist Church, 301 S. Alfred St. in Alexandria, VA. For further information call 703-683-2222.

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