Last Updated on April 21, 2020 by Mark P.
During this Black History Month, we remember all the African-American innovators, thought leaders, and business pioneers that have helped shape the world we live in today. While this is not a conclusive list, it is an insight into the progress and achievements made by some of America’s most cherished celebrities and entrepreneurs in the black community.
One of the world’s leading branding experts as well as one of the hosts of the hit show Shark Tank, Daymond John is also a six-time New York Times bestselling author as well as the former Obama Administration Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship. As the CEO of his consulting firm, the Shark Tank Group, John’s works day-to-day with some of the world’s leading fashion and sports brands in order to connect with consumers in order to amplify name recognition, raise profits, and help different businesses soar to new heights.
Janice Bryant Howroyd
This queendom building achiever worth a whopping $390 million is the CEO of ActOne, a temporary staffing and workforce solutions company trusted by some of the nation’s leading businesses. Building this company from the ground up in 1978 by herself, Howroyd was able to turn a $1,500 loan ($900 loaned by her own mother) and limited resources into a million-dollar business. Now, she services an estimated 17,000 clients and employs thousands of staff across 19 different countries. Howrody truly embodies the American dream!
John H. Johnson
Growing up in the crowded streets of Arkansas City with not even a high school education, John H. Johnson’s hustle led him to learn what was needed in order to attend the University of Chicago while also being a full-time employee at the Supreme Life Insurance company. Eventually, Johnson would become the most successful black publisher in the country, founding magazines such as Negro Digest, Black Magazine, and eventually, a successful little title you might be familiar with- Ebony Magazine. Giving a voice to authors who otherwise would not have been represented in print while providing entertainment and information to the black community, Johnson learned that if opportunities aren’t provided, they can be created.
Worth $550 million dollars alone, Robert Johnson started life as the ninth of ten children in the backwoods of Mississippi. Eventually, Johnson’s grit and tenacity would get him to Princeton University and eventually a long and successful career in television. After working in the television industry for some time, Johnson started his own network, BET. While not owning BET currently (after a $3 billion buyout), Johnson continued to start other successful ventures while also enjoying being a philanthropist.
Madame C.J. Walker
Not only the first successful female millionaire, but C.J. Walker was also the first black woman to own her own business in the United States. Born in 1867 to two free parents who lived their lives previously as slaves on a cotton field, C.J.’s life wasn’t always the easiest. Eventually, she began a hair products company which would go on to hire other black women who needed stable income and to learn new skills in order to become financially independent themselves. Her laboratory and product line are still functioning today, showing that one person’s persistence can create the type of life most people dare to dream of.