This weekend, July 27-31, the Omega Psi Phi fraternity descends on Washington, D.C., to celebrate its centennial. Founded November 17, 1911 by Howard University students Edgar Amos Love, Oscar James Cooper and Frank Coleman and their faculty adviser, Dr. Ernest Everett Just., the organization now boasts an illustrious list of men who are leaders in the arts, the sciences, academics, athletics, civil rights, education, government, and business. In honor of the anniversary, BlackEnterprise.com highlights nine of the outstanding business leaders who are proud to call themselves Ques.
Vernon Jordan, graduate of DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, and Howard University School of Law Jordan served as a close adviser to former president Bill Clinton and has become known as an influential figure in American politics. Since January 2000, he has been Senior Managing Director with Lazard Freres & Co. LLC, an investment banking firm.
Steve Harvey, graduate of West Virginia University The king of reinvention went from stand-up to television to most arguably his most successful venture to date—his nationally syndicated radio show, The Steve Harvey Morning Show. Added to the list: New York Times best-selling author with the runaway hit book, Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man. Harvey also hosts his annual Hoodie Awards honoring local businesses, religious establishments and community leaders.
Mathew Knowles, Fisk University Although often exalted for his accomplishments with his daughter’s career, Mathew Knowles, businessman and founder, CEO and President of Music World Entertainment’s (which includes labels Music World, Music World Gospel, Music World Country and Music World Kids) is responsible for the vision and success of some of the music industry’s biggest acts, selling more than 200 million records worldwide. He steered the careers of Destiny’s Child, the best selling R&B group of all time, and the No. 1 female R&B solo artist, Beyonce, and he serves as a professor at Texas Southern University, philanthropist (Knowles Rowland Temenos House), film producer (Obsessed), talent scout (R&B Live at House of Dereon Media Center) and investor (Music World Properties).
Bill Cosby, graduate of Temple University After a successful early career in film and television, Cosby’s greatest television success came in September 1984 with the debut of the groundbreaking sitcom The Cosby Show on NBC. The success positioned Cosby to later try to purchase the network in 1992, although the bid was denied.
Michael Jordan, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Many still call him the greatest player of all time, but we’re sure brands like Nike, Coca-Cola, Gatorade, McDonald’s and Hanes consider him a saving grace. (Nike created a signature Air Jordan shoe for Jordan in 1985 and has never looked back—with a new design released annually.) Proving there’s much in a name, an academic study found that Jordan’s first NBA comeback after his retirement resulted in an increase in the market capitalization of his client firms of more than $1 billion. In June 2010, the NBA Hall of Famer was ranked by Forbes magazine as the 20th most powerful celebrity in the world with $55 million earned between June 2009 and June 2010. According to the article, Brand Jordan generates $1 billion in sales for Nike.
Edward Lewis Lewis founded Essence magazine in 1968 with Clarence O. Smith, Cecil Hollingsworth, Jonathan Blount, and Denise M. Clark. The magazine for black women, which began publishing in May 1970, has grown to an audience of more than 1 million from its initial 50,000 copies per month. In 2000, Time Inc. purchased 49 percent of the magazine, buying the remaining 51 percent in a deal reported to be worth $170 million. Today, Lewis is chairman of Latina Media Ventures, a magazine he co-founded with Christy Haubegger in 1996 for Hispanic women.
Shaquille O’Neal, Louisiana State University Standing 7 feet and 1 inch tall and better known as Shaq, the former NBA player parlayed his 19-year success on the court to become one of the richest NBA players to play the game, signing more than $290 million in contracts during his career. (He said that he hasn’t cashed a game check in years, relying only on the money he receives from endorsements.) After being approached by a woman who complained through tears that her son couldn’t afford the expensive sneakers Shaq created with Reebok, Shaq broke the mold and partnered with several companies in 2008 to create his Shaq and Dunkman sneaker lines, which he sold at discount stores like Payless for less than $40. The move proved a smart one: He has sold more than 90 million pairs of the shoes over the past 15 years.
And… With so many outstanding Ques to choose from, we decided to let you tell us who should be the final mention on our list of top 9 business leaders of Omega Psi Phi! Leave your choice in the comments below!