The Business Trailblazers and Titans of Black America

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

Percy Sutton

10. Percy Sutton
The Godfather of Black Radio

The late politician, Tuskegee Airman, and civil rights activist purchased a single radio station in New York City in 1972 for $1.9 million and grew it into media conglomerate Inner City Broadcasting. His model of R&B, talk radio, and community service would be replicated nationwide. After saving the famed Apollo Theater in 1981, his company produced the hit, Showtime at the Apollo.

9. Russell Simmons
The Man Who Took Hip-Hop Mainstream
Simmons didn’t just open a business when he created Rush Communications, he gave birth to the multibillion-dollar hip-hop economy. Through his Def Jam unit, he produced music, comedy shows, and motion pictures while Phat Fashions L.L.C. ignited the billion-dollar urban attire industry. He served as mentor to a generation of entrepreneurs in the entertainment and fashion industries.

8. Michael Lee-Chin
The Billionaire Investor
Founder and chairman of Portland Holdings Inc., a privately held investment company in Burlington, Ontario, Jamaican-born Lee-Chin started investing at age 32 and used the proceeds to acquire AIC Limited, which he grew from $1 million in assets to $15 billion. The billionaire has shared his value-investing principles with investors around the globe.

7. Richard Parsons
The Chief Strategist
Parsons has been a transformative figure in corporate America. As CEO of Dime Savings Bank in the 1990s, he turned the thrift into the nation’s fourth largest. By 1995 he was tapped to become president of Time Warner and six years later became CEO of AOL Time Warner. He continues to wield global influence as chairman of Citigroup.

6. Oprah Winfrey
The Media Powerhouse
Winfrey is among the shrewdest of entrepreneurs as well as one of the most ubiquitous brands, influencing the buying decisions of millions worldwide. Since 1986, she has transformed Harpo Inc. into a multimedia conglomerate that has footprints in television, print, radio, and film. As a result, this dynamo represents one of the few black billionaires in America.

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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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  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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