The Business Trailblazers and Titans of Black America

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

15. Arthur G. Gaston Sr.
The Trailblazer
Named black enterprise’s Entrepreneur of the Century in 1992, the late Gaston built a conglomerate in segregated Birmingham, becoming one of the nation’s first black multimillionaires and a financial supporter of the civil rights movement. In the 1980s, he was still a force to be reckoned with, operating several businesses including two be 100s financial services companies.

Herman Russell

14. Ursula Burns
The Corporate Innovator
A 30-year veteran of Xerox Corp. who was named CEO in 2009—she assumed the role of  chairman in May—Burns has become the first African American woman to lead one of the nation’s largest publicly traded companies. She’s now taking the $22 billion company to the next level by integrating its largest acquisition, Affiliated Computer Services, into the Xerox fold.

13. Ed Lewis/Clarence Smith/Susan Taylor
The Voice of Black Women
For 40 years, Essence has celebrated the beauty and potential of African American women. Lewis and Smith, among the original founders, handled finance and operations and generated sales while Taylor, the face of the publication, maintained the editorial direction after becoming editor-in-chief in 1981. It was a perennial on the be 100s  until Time Inc. acquired a majority interest in 2005.

12. Thomas Burrell
The Dean of Black Advertising
Burrell broke barriers in the media industry when he launched his Chicago-based ad agency in 1971. For decades, he fought for industry diversification and the opportunity for black agencies to gain general market accounts. When he left the firm, 49% owned by French agency Publicis Groupe, he sold the majority stake to his managers, retaining its African American ownership.

11. Herman Russell
The Master Builder
As Chairman of H. J. Russell & Co., he has changed the skylines of American cities and international hubs, developed business and political opportunities for African Americans, and broken barriers in the construction industry. One of the largest minority contractors, Russell has served as an advocate of and mentor to legions of black business owners nationwide.

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39 Responses to The Business Trailblazers and Titans of Black America

  1. Kevin Brown says:

    As a citizen of Gary,IN., I was quite suprised to to see the ranking Don Barden received on your titan list. When you consider the fact that he filed for bankruptcy last year and has become a hostile corporate citizen in the City of Gary(the city that gave him his break in the Gaming industry),I feel his 21st ranking is quite generous.

  2. Pingback: No. 24: Bill Mays, The King Of Chemicals - BLACK ENTERPRISE

  3. Pingback: No. 23: Ann Fudge, The Barrier Breaker - BLACK ENTERPRISE

  4. Pingback: No. 32: R. Donahue Peebles, The Real Estate Groundbreaker - BLACK ENTERPRISE

  5. Pingback: No. 34: Cathy Hughes, The Broadcasting Architect - BLACK ENTERPRISE

  6. Pingback: No. 22: Byron Lewis, The Image Maker - BLACK ENTERPRISE

  7. Pingback: No. 20: Earvin “Magic” Johnson, The Business All-Star - BLACK ENTERPRISE

  8. Pingback: No. 19: Dave Bing, The Man Of Steel - BLACK ENTERPRISE

  9. Don Sheu says:

    Enjoying this list. Last two links for sections 8 and 9 are not live. Anyway to request a fix? Thank you.

  10. Pingback: No. 18: John Rogers, The Investment Icon - BLACK ENTERPRISE

  11. Pingback: No. 17: George Johnson, The King Of Black Haircare - BLACK ENTERPRISE

  12. Pingback: No. 16: Berry Gordy, The Music Mogul - BLACK ENTERPRISE

  13. Pingback: TheCASHFLOW - The Titans: 40 Moguls Who Shaped Modern Black Business

  14. Pingback: No. 15: Arthur G. Gaston Sr., The Trailblazer - BLACK ENTERPRISE

  15. Pingback: No. 13: Ed Lewis/Clarence Smith/Susan Taylor, The Voice Of Black Women - BLACK ENTERPRISE

  16. Pingback: No. 14: Ursula Burns, The Corporate Innovator - BLACK ENTERPRISE

  17. Pingback: No. 21: Don Barden, The Visionary - BLACK ENTERPRISE

  18. Pingback: No. 12: Thomas Burrell, The Dean Of Black Advertising - BLACK ENTERPRISE

  19. Pingback: No. 11: Herman Russell, The Master Builder - BLACK ENTERPRISE

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  21. Pingback: No. 7: Richard Parsons, The Chief Strategist - BLACK ENTERPRISE

  22. Pingback: No. 10: Percy Sutton, The Godfather Of Black Radio - BLACK ENTERPRISE

  23. Pingback: No. 6: Oprah Winfrey, The Media Powerhouse - BLACK ENTERPRISE

  24. Pingback: No. 4: Kenneth Chenault, The Consummate leader - BLACK ENTERPRISE

  25. Pingback: No. 2: Robert L. Johnson, The Power Player - BLACK ENTERPRISE

  26. Pingback: No. 1: John H. Johnson, The Legend - BLACK ENTERPRISE

  27. Pingback: Black Enterprise Golf & Tennis Challenge: Tribute to the Titans - BLACK ENTERPRISE

  28. Gwen Kelly says:

    A powerful reminder: Success Runs in Our Race!

  29. Greg Henry says:

    I would like to commend Mr. Don Barden on his past accomplishments.  But he and the city of Gary Indiana is in a nasty court battle and to compound the problem even more, he has file for bankruptcy.  It is unfortunate that both sides has got to this point.  

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  31. Pingback: Ask Janice » Blog Archive » JBH, the “Job Czar,” on BE’s Most Impactful Black Business Leaders List

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  33. Pingback: UBR Morning Post: Real Estate Titan Don Peebles | AfroBuzz Central

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  35. Pingback: Leadership Lessons From the Navy Video Scandal | AfroBuzz Central

  36. Pingback: Top 10: Women of Power | AfroBuzz Central

  37. Pingback: Paying Tribute to Atlanta's Master Builder, Herman J. Russell - Black Enterprise

  38. Pingback: Business Titan William Mays Dies at 69

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