The Business Trailblazers and Titans of Black America

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

Earl G. Graves Sr.

5. Earl G. Graves Sr.
The Champion of Black Business
As founder and publisher of black enterprise, this quintessential entrepreneur created a vehicle to provide information and advocacy that has enabled three generations of African Americans to build wealth through business ownership, career advancement, and money management. Through his media company, he opened the door for the best and brightest in the global business arena.

4. Kenneth Chenault
The Consummate Leader
Chenault is not just the CEO of American Express; he is the face of global corporate leadership. Chairman and chief executive since 2001—one of only six African Americans to hold that dual position at a major publicly traded company—he is one of the most admired executives for his cool, Socratic approach, successfully steering Amex and serving as a presidential advisor during crises such as 9/11.

3. Reginald F. Lewis
The Global Dealmaker
With his historic $985 million leveraged buyout of TLC Beatrice International Foods Cos.—the largest offshore transaction at the time—the late financier created the first black-owned global enterprise to surpass the billion-dollar revenue mark. Throughout his business career, he helped black businesses gain access to financing and became the standard bearer for African Americans on Wall Street.

2. Robert L. Johnson
The Power Player
Johnson made business history when he took BET public in 1991, the first time a black-owned company was traded on the New York Stock Exchange. In 2000, he sold the cable network to Viacom for $3.2 billion, making him the first African American billionaire. He acquired the Charlotte Bobcats in 2003, creating the first black-owned NBA franchise and launched four other be 100s companies.

1. John H. Johnson
The Legend
The late business icon built his publishing and cosmetics empire into an international powerhouse, distributing name brands such as Ebony, Jet, and Fashion Fair. For 60 years, he touched the lives of millions of African Americans in every facet of life, sharing with the world their talents and potential, exposing injustice and racism, and shattering social and commercial barriers.

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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

  20. Pingback: UBR Morning Post: Black Enterprise Titan Bill Mays - BLACK ENTERPRISE

  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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