In the years since the TLC Group’s leveraged buyout, African American entrepreneurs have continued to access financing and build wealth, unlock value from their businesses, and develop their companies’ vision. Several black-owned companies now generate revenues of $1 billion or more (see sidebar, The Billion-Dollar Club). Despite these gains, most think there is still a long way to go in accessing capital. And many of today’s entrepreneurs, inspired by the example of Lewis and many others, continue the fight to open new doors of opportunity.
Along with her two adult daughters, Leslie and Christina, Loida is focused on preserving the legacy of her late husband. In 1994, a best-selling book about his life, Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun? (John Wiley; $18.95) was published; it continues to be a must-read for entrepreneurs and deal makers. Through the Reginald F. Lewis Foundation, Loida supports a number of educational and civic causes including the Reginald F.Â Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture in Baltimore. And hundreds of students study in the Reginald F. Lewis International Law Center on the campus of Harvard Law School, an institution he gave a gift of $3 million. “She has kept his personal legacy alive,â€ says Savage. “It’s important, particularly for our young people, to know that people like him existed.â€
So 25 years after Lewis’s historic deal, his example continues to resonate. He showed that success requires a lifetime of preparation: honing skills, developing relationships, overcoming failure. He was tough, to some difficult to work with. But his goal was to compete at the highest levels of finance, and he did. In so doing, he’s helped inspire a generation of entrepreneurs to keep moving forward, no matter what.