T Brand’s Amber Guild on growing up as an activist, the privilege of protesting—and stumping for Jesse Jackson
Amber Guild is president of T Brand at the New York Times, the branded content arm of the news publication. In this episode of the “Ad Block” podcast, she talks about growing up as the child of political activists.
“Before I could walk, there were protest rallies,” Guild says. She watched her father and stepmother organize events in their community in New Jersey. “I watched them go around the neighborhood to get people to sign up to vote, to take people to voting stations. Any time there was a mass march on Washington, we were there.”
Guild and her little brother participated, too. “I don’t know that I thought that people didn’t go to protests or stand outside their local congressman’s house with signs,” she says. “At that time, apartheid [in South Africa] was still in effect, so we spent a lot of time in particular on anything around racial injustice.”
When Jesse Jackson ran for president in 1988, Guild and her brother got to work. “We decided to make buttons and to sell them door-to-door to raise money for his campaign,” Guild says. “They’re always misshapen and off-center. But we sold them for a $1 a button—really great margins.”
They made $1,000. And when Jackson came to town, he asked them to introduce him onstage.
At the same time, Guild was spending weekdays with her mother in Manhattan, in a community of color during the height of the crack epidemic. Though her mother had previously been involved in radical politics, it wasn’t her top priority at that point in her life.
“When I would come home and ask her why she wasn’t more involved, she gave me a look and was like, ‘I’m a single mom and I’m a black woman,’” Guild says. “'I’m very happy your dad and stepmom are so active, but that’s not a luxury I have right now. I’m trying to get myself educated, get you educated so that we can change where we are.’”
Guild also weighs in on life with her British husband, questioning authority at work and the lies that ads tell kids.