Introduction: Black Experience In Business (01:47)
African American entrepreneurship is central to the notion of black liberation. Segregation forced black businesses to sell to their community, allowing black Americans to become economically independent.
Black Female Trailblazer (03:14)
Ursula Burns grew-up poor, but her mother taught her self-determination. She began working at Xerox as a summer intern and worked her way up to executive assistant. She became the first black woman appointed CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
Early Pioneers (03:01)
Some slaves kept part of the money they generated for masters and purchased freedom. The abolition of slavery made African American dreams of freedom, equality, and independence seem possible.
After the Civil War (03:17)
President Abraham Lincoln promised freedmen 40 acres and a mule, but that promise died with his assassination. Many freed slaves deposited earnings in the Freedmen’s Bank and went into business for themselves.
Reprising Previous Roles (02:27)
Personal services were the clearest path to success for many black entrepreneurs; many replicated roles as servants and barbers for white clientele. John Merrick convinced white investors to back his barber shop empire in Durham, North Carolina.
Rise of Jim Crow (04:21)
Black businesses relied on the Freedman's Bank; the president, Henry Cooke, began looting. The bank collapsed in 1874 and the federal government removed troops from the South, returning control of the region to former slave owners.
Black Progress (04:24)
W.E.B. Dubois argued that black-owned businesses could play a key role in progress. Booker T. Washington started the National Negro Business League. By 1900, there were about 20,000 black-owned businesses, but a wave of lynching swept the country.
Great Migration (04:05)
At the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, Ida B. Wells rebuked racist terrorism. Robert Abbott started what would become the nation’s most influential black newspaper in 1905. He encouraged blacks to move to Chicago.
Media Mogul (03:25)
Black-owned media built on the success of early black newspapers; radio provided a voice to black communities across the country. Cathy Hughes started her media empire in 1980 with the purchase of WOL-AM in Washington, DC.
Tulsa Race Riot (06:13)
Black pioneers settled more than 100 all-black towns in the West between the 1870s and World War I. Greenwood became known as Black Wall Street. A white mob invaded the district in 1921, murdering residents and torching homes and businesses.
Riot Survivors (04:14)
J.B. Stradford fled to Chicago after being falsely accused of inciting the violence in Tulsa. His great-grandson John Rogers founded Ariel Investments, the largest black-owned investment firm in America.
Hair Care and Beauty Empires (07:31)
Annie Malone formulated a product that helped black women straighten their hair without damage. She founded the Poro Company and a system of beauty colleges. She also trained Madame C.J. Walker who became the world’s first self-made, female millionaire.
Insurance Success (03:15)
Black-owned insurance companies prospered in the late 19th century when white insurance companies refused to cover African Americans. Merrick founded North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company.
African American Banks (04:32)
Between 1890 and 1920, there were 150 to 200 black banks across the U.S. They were vital to black businesses that could not obtain capital and credit from white institutions. In 1903, Maggie Lena Walker became the first woman to organize and lead a bank.
Rise and Fall of Entrepreneur (03:05)
S.B. Fuller built a conglomerate that included a department store, a theater, a string of newspapers, and a factory. He employed over 5,000 people in 35 states, but faced boycotts after Southern whites learned he was black.
Hitsville, USA (05:47)
For decades, black musicians provided content for a music industry that was strictly segregated. Berry Gordy started Motown, becoming one of the most popular labels in history. The company had over $100 million in annual sales by 1983.
Johnson Publishing Company (06:27)
John Johnson’s mission was to put a positive focus on the experiences of people of African descent. In 1955, he followed the brutal murder of Chicago teen Emmett Till in Mississippi.
Supporting Civil Rights (02:19)
A.G. Gaston provided space for Martin Luther King, Jr., Fred Shuttlesworth, and other civil rights leaders; he paid King’s bail when he was arrested. Gaston's hotel and home were bombed by white supremacists.
Political Conflict (04:20)
Coverage of the Civil Rights Movement inspired Ken Frazier to become a lawyer. He had mixed feelings about joining Donald Trump’s American Manufacturing Council and resigned after the president commented on the 2017 Unite the Right rally.
Black Economic Agenda (06:11)
The government established programs to set aside federal contracts exclusively for minority-owned businesses. Black mayors lead cities where black businesses had traditionally been shut out.
Trailblazing Businessman (04:13)
Vernon Jordan’s introduction to business was his mother’s catering company. He spent a decade on the front lines of the Civil Rights Movement, opening doors for future black business leaders.
Black Business Magazine (02:46)
Black Enterprise was created to document the corporate climb of the first generation of black executives. Earl Graves built his business with contacts he made while an assistant to Senator Robert F. Kennedy.
Beatrice International (02:47)
Reginald Lewis amassed a collection of 64 businesses in 31 countries to become the first African American to build a billion dollar company. He was the most influential black businessperson in the country and a major player on Wall Street.
Rise of Hip-Hop Moguls (04:51)
Many communities that had prospered during the Great Migration suffered from social and economic policies. Rap trio Run DMC heralded a generation of hip-hop entrepreneurs that is best exemplified by “Jay-Z” and “Dr. Dre."
Venture Catalyst (04:38)
Black startups struggle in raising venture capital; 2% of investment dollars go to black women. Arlan Hamilton founded Backstage Capital with the goal of investing in 100 companies.
Vista Equity Partners (08:50)
In 2014, the proportion of black employees at Google, Yahoo, Facebook and LinkedIn topped out at 2%. Robert Smith's software company manages $31 billion in private equity capital; he is the richest African American in the world.
Credits: Boss: The Black Experience in Business (03:35)
Credits: Boss: The Black Experience in Business
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