Magazine article Black Enterprise

They Made History-And So Can You

Magazine article Black Enterprise

They Made History-And So Can You

Article excerpt

We have a saying at my company: At BLACK ENTERPRISE, every month is Black History Month. That's because our Wealth for Life mission calls for us to chronicle African American progress and celebrate black achievement year-round, not just during the month of February.

However, that doesn't mean we don't take Black History Month seriously, particularly when it comes to recognizing outstanding entrepreneurs and business leaders. Unfortunately, when celebrating the contributions of black people to our nation and the world, our legacy as business achievers too often takes a back seat to our accomplishments as athletes, civil rights activists, political leaders, and entertainers. To the casual observer, it would be easy to believe that such a legacy does not exist. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Our rich history of achievement did not begin with Russell Simmons and Oprah Winfrey. It began long before the founding of BLACK ENTERPRISE more than 40 years ago. We all need to know about the thriving black business districts that evolved in segregated communities across America, including Tulsa, Oklahoma's "Black Wall Street"--which was utterly destroyed by racial violence in 1921. We need to know about black haircare products pioneer Madame C.J. Walker, first black female bank president Maggie Lena Walker, and Birmingham millionaire Arthur G. Gaston Jr., who built business and financial institutions long before terms such as equal opportunity and supplier diversity became part of the lexicon of American business. More recently, we need to know and celebrate the stories of groundbreaking black business leaders such as TLC Beatrice International CEO Reginald E Lewis and Act-1 Group Founder and CEO Janice Bryant Howroyd. And this is just a small sampling of our rich legacy in business.

Knowing and appreciating our history is about more than celebrating the past for posterity's sake. …

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