The Business Trailblazers and Titans of Black America

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

20. Earvin “Magic” Johnson
The Business All-Star
The former basketball superstar scored in business, developing partnerships with Sony Corp. (Magic Johnson Theaters), TGI Friday’s Inc., and Starbucks Corp. to place mainstream brands in black communities. In the process, he employed thousands of African American workers and managers and became one of the nation’s leading advocates of black entrepreneurship.

Berry Gordy

19. Dave Bing
The Man of Steel
Retired NBA All-Star and current mayor of Detroit, Bing is a pioneer in the steel industry. During the 1990s, The Bing Group—which comprised five companies: Bing Steel, Superb Manufacturing, Bing Manufacturing, Detroit Automotive Interiors, and Trim Tech—had become one of the largest black suppliers to the then-Big Three auto manufacturers and one of the biggest employers on the be 100s.

18. John Rogers
The Investment Icon
In 1983, Rogers founded Ariel Capital Management, now Ariel Investments L.L.C., creating the first family of equity mutual funds managed by African Americans. For close to 30 years, he has promoted financial literacy and wealth-building through investing using the Ariel Education Initiative and advocates for diversity through the Black Corporate Directors Conference.

17. George Johnson
The King of  Black Haircare
Johnson built one of the nation’s largest black-owned haircare companies,  Johnson Products Co. in 1957, creating enduring brands such as Afro Sheen and Ultra Sheen. In 1970, he made history when the Chicago-based business became the first publicly held black-owned company traded on the American Stock Exchange.

16. Berry Gordy
The Music Mogul
Music industry icon Gordy created America’s soundtrack with such hit makers as Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder. He also created a business model for entrepreneurs in the entertainment industry. In 1973, when be began its Top 100 rankings, he led the nation’s largest black-owned company, Motown, which would hold that position for more than a decade. Gordy sold Motown in 1988.

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