Black history month – any month of the year for that matter – cannot be complete without recognizing our business icons who opened doors for all of us. I look to those thatÂ BLACK ENTERPRISE identified as part of its 40th anniversary in 2010: The Most Powerful African Americans in Business.
I have decide to focus on the top five who made our roster: Publishing legend John Johnson; power player Robert L. Johnson; global dealmaker Reginald F. Lewis; consummate corporate leader Kenneth Chenault; and the ultimate champion of black business Earl G. Graves, Sr.
As an editor and writer for BE for more than three decades, I have had the privilege to interview four of them – and work for one.Â InÂ our August 2010 issue, I wrote thatÂ these individuals – and 35 others on the list – applied professional excellence, dealmaking prowess, and unwavering advocacy to convert promise into channels of prosperity and levers of power. It’s true. Not only did they uplift and inspire generations of African Americans but they also helped shape our modern world.
I share their stories and one of theirÂ lessons — and they had many — from each titan: