Then & Now

BE's coverage over the last four decades reveals how far we've come and how far we must go

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investment banker Harold Doley pays $90,000 to become the first African American individual to buy a seat on the NYSE. When Daniels & Bell is liquidated roughly 20 years later, the firm loses its seat while Doley remains the only black with a NYSE membership.

JUNE 1973
BE unveils its list of the Top 100 black businesses. The original Top 100, which includes industrial, service, and professional businesses, has total sales of $473.4 million.

Maynard Jackson is elected mayor of Atlanta. By mandating that minority businesses gain a fair share of municipal contracts, Jackson creates more black millionaires than any other public official and a business development model adopted by other big-city mayors and federal agencies.

MAY 1974
Atlanta University School of Business becomes the first black business program to gain accreditation from the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business. Today, there fewer than 15 historically black colleges and universities that have accredited business schools.

APRIL 1975
Frank Robinson becomes the first black manager of a major league baseball team, the Cleveland Indians.
Purchased for $750,000, Detroit’s WGPR-TV becomes the first black-owned and operated television station in the U.S.

Aided by what is now known as the National Minority Supplier Development Council Inc., minority firms top $1 billion for goods and services sold to majority firms. Today, black-owned businesses receive billions in contracts from many of the nation’s top 1,000 public companies.
President Jimmy Carter hosts the first White House summit of BE 100S CEOs. At the session, they discuss government initiatives that will expand opportunities for black-owned businesses.

Rev. Jesse Jackson becomes the first African American to make a serious bid for the U.S. presidency. His impressive showing in the primaries pushes the Democratic Party to adopt his platform plank calling for the use of affirmative action to provide greater job opportunities. In 1988, presidential candidate Jackson becomes an even greater political force among Democrats when he wins five states and places second in four others in Super Tuesday primaries.

Los Angeles securities attorney Aulana Peters becomes the first African American appointed to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The Democratic appointee from the Reagan administration is chosen for her skill in handling hostile takeovers, leveraged buyouts, and other activities of corporate raiders — a hot issue during the ’80s.

JUNE 1985
Michael Hollis launches Air Atlanta, the nation’s first black-owned commercial airline. Hollis raises more than $45 million in capital from companies such as Equitable Life Assurance Society (known now as AXA Financial Advisors); General Electric Credit Corp.; and UNC Ventures, the largest black venture capital firm at the time. By 1987, Air Atlanta becomes a casualty of the decade’s airline wars. The airline files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to thin capitalization. Fourteen years later, BET Founder Robert Johnson fails in his bid to launch the largest minority-owned airline when the Department of Justice grounds the proposed merger of United Airlines and US Airways.

Oprah Winfrey negotiates a distribution deal with KingWorld, her show’s distributor, and walks away with the rights to produce and host The

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