Interview with Ed Gardner

Renault Robinson came to see you, asking for a donation of something and that turned into the voter registration. How did that happen?


Yeah, you know, Renault as far as I was concerned was a, a major political figure in the state of Chicago, well known, well respected, ah, tremendous leader. And he said, Ed, we need us some donations. I'll be by to see you. And I had never had a conversation with Renault, Renault Robinson before. So, he came by, and he explained the whole problem. He said, you know, we're not going to do anything to change this city because we're not registered, 250 thousand Black Chicagoans need to be registered. What can we do about it? My son and daughter Terry said, they said, well look dad, why don't we, ah, allo--allocate our last quarter advertisement dollars to voter registration in this city**. Now that means we wouldn't advertise Soft Sheen products but we would have the dollars to get behind voter registration. In addition to the dollars we'd have the creative minds, minds that were neutered (nurtured?)[SIC] in the Black colleges and so forth that got their start in our, in our campaign led by Dr. King. They are now turning things back over to the city of Chicago to help make things better because of the training they got in our Black colleges. And now they have the dollars and the minds to do that with. So we felt that here was an opportunity not only to use our dollar but use our brilliant minds that were developed by the Black community to make things better in this city by learning and doing the voter registration drive. Trying to keep in mind, we were not politicians at all. But we knew how to sell a product and we felt we knew how to sell voter registration to this city. And the strong campaign put by, through our advertising marketing department and my son's leadership and my daughter's leadership, they really aroused this city to the importance of becoming a voter. And you had to be a voter, you had to become a registered voter and this is what we did in a drive which was "come alive, October 5." And at that time when it was all over we had 250 thousand new registered voters in the city of Chicago. And that was strength, believe me.