Mary Alexander, the First Black Woman to Appear in Coca-Cola Advertisements

Mary Alexander

Born in Alabama, Mary Alexander is truly a trailblazer as well as a lovely example for models and company advertisers as well. Her legacy? Becoming the first Black woman to appear in a Coca-Cola advertisement. And even with this accomplishment, Mary is widely known to be a monument of humility. When asked about her casting, Alexander states: "I was surprised that they chose me...Girls there were from Atlanta and New York. I was just a simple country girl!”

Alexander became only the second in her family to attend college, according to the official Coca-Cola Company. The same article continues, " During her junior year, the housemother of her dorm approached her and explained that Coca-Cola was trying to recruit African-Americans for a new advertising campaign. She suggested Mary try out." Because of her decision to try out and ultimately be selected for the ads, Alexander was paid "$600 total for approximately 15 ads, enough to pay for a full year of her college tuition."

This wasn't her only accomplishment, however. Mary Alexander continued her education to the point of becoming a teacher. This led to her decision to "teach at Highland Park High School and eventually became the school’s first female African-American principal.

Years later, she was named the first female African-American director of vocational education for the state of Michigan." When asked years later about the decisions she's made, Mary shares heartily, "I hope I opened some doors. I hope I laid some groundwork for people in the future to see what can be done despite the odds."