L. Douglas Wilder has always played by his own rules — and made history doing it. be first introduced readers to Wilder in the January 1989 issue as he was beginning his run for the State House. As Lt. Governor of Virginia, he was the highest-ranking elected black state official. In November, Wilder, the grandson of former slaves, made history by becoming the first African American elected governor of Virginia, known as the cradle of the Old Confederacy.
In his role as governor, Wilder proved to be an adroit manager and strong leader. His “New Mainstream” brought an unprecedented number of African Americans into executive-level appointments, expanded the state’s international trade, and balanced the budget by paring down the state’s bureaucracy, while refusing to raise taxes. While most states were battered by recession, Wilder’s fiscal prowess earned Virginia Financial World magazine’s designation as one of the nation’s best-managed states for two years in a row. He told be at the time: “Throwing money at problems doesn’t solve them, but wise and prudent investment to the extent that government is streamlined does.”
His national exposure and rock-solid credentials positioned Wilder for a run at the White House in 1992. The bid was short-lived, however. He withdrew, he says, to re-devote his total energy to the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Since stepping down as governor in 1994 (by law, the incumbent governor can not run for a second consecutive term), Wilder spends time with his private law practice and hosts a radio program. At one point, he was being eyed for the presidency of Virginia Union University, his alma mater. But he withdrew his name from consideration.
Now Wilder makes headlines as the chairman of the Medical University of Southern Africa (MEDUNSA) Trust. This past June, Wilder presented an award to Botswanan President Festus Mogae, honoring him as the first recipient of the Distinguished Achievement Award for AIDS Leadership in Southern Africa. In addition to supporting MEDUNSA’s cause to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa, the former politician serves as a distinguished professor at the Center of Public Policy and the Department of Political Science at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Food From The Hood
Known for: Being a model of youth entrepreneurship B.E. milestone: First Black Enterprise Kidpreneurs Award winner in 1996 What happened: The program continues and has a number of college graduates as former participants What’s next: Continued expansion of the program throughout the nation
Food From the Hood. There had not been anything like it: a group of teenagers growing vegetables in an urban community and, in turn, selling them to supermarkets. With the adult help of co-founders Tammy Bird and Melinda McMullen, students from Crenshhhaw High School in Los Angeles, formed Food From the Hood, and landed a $50,000 grant from Rebuild L.A. to produce “Straight Out the Garden” salad dressing. The students handle the marketing, financing, and development of the food, and Sweet Adelaide, based in Hawthorne, California, a co-packer, manufactures and packages the dressing.
In its first year, the group generated $600 in sales, which went into a