The Business Trailblazers and Titans of Black America

The 40 most powerful African Americans in business-and how they shaped our world

Tyler Perry

30. Henry Parks
The Pioneer
Parks was the business mastermind who made Parks Sausage Co. into one of the nation’s leading food manufacturers. He also made history when the company went public, becoming the first black-owned business to do so, trading on the NASDAQ. An original black enterprise Advisory Board member, Parks mentored several leading black business owners before his death in the ’80s.

29. Tyler Perry
The Hollywood Hitmaker
One of the most powerful blacks in entertainment, Perry has developed a crop of plays, films, and TV shows that he owns and controls. He’s also made unprecedented multimillion-dollar production and distribution deals with Lionsgate and TBS. With the development of his 200,000-square-foot production facility in Atlanta, he provides work for African Americans in front of and behind the camera.

28. Al Johnson
The Auto Dealer Advocate
The first African American to be awarded Oldsmobile and Cadillac franchises from General Motors, the late Johnson was considered one of the top dealers in the country and a galvanizing force for African American auto dealers. He organized the first minority auto dealers association in 1970 and encouraged GM to start a training program for minority dealers, which eventually became the industry standard.

27. JoAnn Price
The Black Business Financier
For more than 30 years, Price has been at the forefront of gaining capital for minority business. As president of the National Association of Investment Cos., a trade association for minority-focused private equity firms, Price raised millions in capital for black entrepreneurs. Today she co-manages Fairview Capital Partners Inc., the largest African American private equity firm.

26. Edward Gardner
The Global Haircare Giant
As founder of Soft Sheen in 1964, Gardner took a single product and created the nation’s largest black haircare empire. At one point Soft Sheen was ranked the sixth largest black industrial/service company. With his son, Gary, he acquired a London distributor and set up a worldwide network for its line of 150 products to connect with customers in 66 countries.

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