Black Enterprise pays final tribute to 10 great leaders in business, civil rights, politics and philanthropy whose passing made global news in 2010. While we mourned their departure in 2010, we also pay tribute to their historic achievements and remain grateful for the difference their contributions will continue to make in 2011 and beyond. –Alfred Edmond Jr.
Lee Archer (September 6, 1919 – January 27, 2010) Retired Lt. Col. Lee “Buddy” Archer Jr., a member of the distinguished Tuskegee Airmen, is the only black ace pilot on record, having shot down five enemy planes in WWII. His post-military career was no less outstanding. Archer broke racial barriers in the 1970s and ‘80s as one of only a few high-ranking black corporate executives at a major corporation. By 1975, he had become a General Foods vice president and was responsible for North Street Capital Corp., a specialized small business investment company that funded Essence Communications and Black Enterprise magazine. In 1985, he was an adviser to the late Reginald Lewis, helping him craft the 1987 business deal that created TLC Beatrice, the largest black-owned and -managed company in the country.
J. Bruce Llewellyn (July 16, 1927 – April 7, 2010) A towering figure in the broadcasting, bottling, banking and supermarket industries, Llewellyn (pictured right) grew the Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Co. into the sixth-largest Coca-Cola bottling operation and the third-largest African American-owned business in the United States. He also made his mark in the banking and broadcasting industries. Along the way, Llewellyn became one of the few to ever serve as CEO of multiple BE 100s companies, including New York-based Queen City Broadcasting Co., simultaneously. He was also a co-founder of 100 Black Men of America.
Benjamin Hooks (January 31, 1925 – April 15, 2010) A Baptist minister and practicing attorney, Hooks served as executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) from 1977 to 1992, and throughout his career was a vocal champion of civil rights. In 1965, he became the first black judge to sit on the bench of a Tennessee state court since Reconstruction. In 1972, he became the first Black member of the Federal Communications Commission, where he championed minority ownership of television and radio stations. In addition, Rev. Hooks was a minister at two Baptist churches, in Memphis and Detroit, and sat on the board of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Lena Horne (June 30, 1917 – May 9, 2010) A legendary and award-winning singer, actor and dancer, perhaps best known for performing the title song, now a standard, for one of her first films, Stormy Weather. Horne was just as well-known for her staunch civil rights activism. She was at the historic 1963 March on Washington and spoke and performed on behalf of the NAACP, SNCC, and the National Council of Negro Women. She also worked with Eleanor Roosevelt to pass anti-lynching laws.
Raymond V. Haysbert (January 19, 1920 – May 24, 2010) A member of the renowned Tuskegee Airmen. Haysbert joined Baltimore-based Parks Sausage Company in 1952, becoming CEO as it grew into one of the largest black-owned U.S. businesses. By 1969, under his leadership, Parks Sausage became the first minority-owned company to have its shares traded on a stock exchange. In later years, he was active in politics and the civil rights movement, serving as chairman of the Greater Baltimore Urban League until his death.
Manute Bol (October 16, 1962 – June 19, 2010) A Sudanese-born basketball player and activist, Bol was one of the two tallest players ever to appear in the National Basketball Association at 7 feet, 7 inches, and was also the first African-born player to be drafted into the NBA. He was the son of a Dinka tribal chief, who gave him the name “Manute,” which means “special blessing.” Bol truly lived up to his name off the court. Active in charitable causes throughout his career, he spent much of the money he made during a 10-year NBA career supporting various causes related to war-ravaged nation Sudan, eventually establishing the Ring True Foundation to raise funds for Sudanese refugees. Bol, who spent three years as a slave in childhood, helped create the Sudan Freedom Walk to find a solution to the genocide in Darfur in western Sudan, and also to raise awareness of the modern day slavery and human rights abuses throughout Sudan.
Ronald W. Walters (July 20, 1938 – September 10, 2010) The nation’s foremost scholar of the politics of race, Walters was instrumental in the formation of the Congressional Black Caucus, and in 1977, he co-founded TransAfrica, an organization that helped lead the fight against South African Apartheid. When Jesse Jackson ran for president in 1984, Walters served as his deputy campaign manager and debate advisor. He was the author of 13 books, including White Nationalism, Black Interests: Conservative Public Policy and the Black Community, which predicted the sort of Tea Party insurgency taking place today. In Black Presidential Politics in America: A Strategic Approach, Walters mapped out a process for a Black candidate to win a White House bid.
Dick Griffey (November 16, 1938 – September 24, 2010) American record producer and promoter, Griffey founded SOLAR Records, an acronym for “Sound of Los Angeles Records”, which played a major role in developing a funk-oriented blend of disco, R&B and soul music during the 1970s and 1980s. SOLAR acts included Shalamar, Klymaxx, Lakeside, Midnight Star and The Whispers. Griffey ultimately built SOLAR into one of the nation’s largest black-owned companies, the first of two businesses he would lead to the ranks of the BE 100s. The second was African Development Public Investment Corp., a commodities and oil trading company.