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Jason Philip Miller

CEO and entrepreneur, was born in the Baruch housing project on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York, and raised by a single mother who took in ironing and ran a daycare center to make ends meet. Education was important to the family, and her mother set money aside money to send Burns and her two siblings to Catholic school, from which she graduated in 1976. She matriculated to the Polytechnic Institute of New York, taking a Bachelor's of Science degree in Engineering in 1980. The following year, she went on to take a master's in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University. Between degrees, she worked as an intern at the Xerox Corporation (which, in part, funded her tuition) and was subsequently offered a job by that company.

Burns s initial work at Xerox centered mainly around product development where she made a name for herself as a ...

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Shantel Agnew

lawyer, businessman, and one of the first African American chief executive officers (CEO) of a Fortune 500 company. Chenault was born on Long Island, New York. His father, Hortenius Chenault, was a dentist, and his mother, Anne Chenault, was a dental hygienist. Kenneth Chenault graduated with numerous honors from Waldorf High School, a private school in Garden City, New York. He completed one year at Springfield College before transferring to Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. There he earned a bachelor's degree in history in 1973. He earned a JD from Harvard Law School in 1976.

After he graduated from Harvard, Chenault was hired as an associate by the law firm Rogers and Wells in New York City. In 1979 he worked as a management consultant for Bain and Company despite not having a master s degree in business administration Chenault passed the Massachusetts bar ...

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Richard Sobel

lawyer and corporate leader, was born in Mineola, New York, to Hortenius Chenault, a dentist and a Morehouse and Howard University graduate, and Anne N. Quick, a dental hygienist and Howard alumna. The second of three brothers and one sister, Ken grew up in middle-class, mostly white Hempstead, Long Island, and attended the innovative, private Waldorf School in Garden City through twelfth grade. Although both his parents had graduated top in their classes, Kenneth was at first a middling student. He improved academically and became class president and captain of the track and basketball teams. He also avidly read biographies of famous people, including Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Winston Churchill.

Starting Springfield College on an athletic scholarship he transferred under the mentorship of Waldorf s Peter Curran to Bowdoin College in Maine There he joined two dozen black pioneers at the ...

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Sholomo B. Levy

minister, U.S. Congressman, educator, and business executive, was born in Los Angeles, California, the eighth of thirteen children of Robert Flake Sr., a janitor, and Rosie Lee Johnson. Shortly after Floyd's birth, the family moved into a two-bedroom home in Houston, Texas. The roots of many of Floyd's political beliefs can be traced to his southern upbringing: his family was poor, but proud; racism abounded, but faith and optimism ruled the Flake home.

Floyd s early education took place in segregated poorly equipped schools but his teachers were dedicated and took a stern interest in his academic development One teacher cared enough to make sure that Floyd spent much of his free time involved in youth programs at her African Methodist Episcopal AME Church After graduating from high school Flake entered Wilberforce University the nation s oldest private African American University in Ohio He ...

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Daniel A. Dalrymple

At the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first, the marketing executive Ann Fudge gained a reputation as a highly capable leader in the mostly white, male business world. She demonstrated a talent for reinventing and reinvigorating standard products threatened by trendy competitors. Through creative and thoughtful leadership in managing products such as Shake ’N Bake, Minute Rice, and Maxwell House Coffee, Fudge shattered the glass ceiling and demonstrated that there is room for both women and African Americans in the upper echelons of big business.

Ann Fudge was born in Washington, DC. Her father, Malcolm R. Brown, was a U.S. Postal Service administrator, and her mother, Bettye Lewis Brown was a National Security Agency manager Fudge attended Catholic schools in her hometown and secured a job while still in high school as an advisor on teen fashion to a local department store ...

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Alexia Hudson

the first African American chief executive officer of a major advertising firm. In the era when corporate America remained dominated by white males, Fudge defied the odds by ascending the ranks of General Foods to become responsible for the $5 billion Kraft division as president. Then she did something few women in her position would consider—she walked away from her coveted role to take a self-imposed sabbatical in 2001, considered a controversial move by many business analysts. Fudge further defied the odds by returning to work to head one of the world's largest advertising firms in 2003 as chief executive officer (CEO), a first for any African American.

Born Ann Marie Brown in Washington D C she was the elder of two children Her father was an administrator with the U S Postal Service and her mother was a manager at the National Security Agency Raised in a comfortable ...

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Ayesha Kanji

business executive and leader, was born Ann Marie Brown in Washington, D.C., the daughter of Malcolm R. Brown, a U.S. Postal Service employee, and Bettye Lewis, a manager at the National Security Agency. Fudge attended a series of Catholic schools before matriculating at Simmons College in Boston in 1969. She recalls the riots after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 as a “hurtful but formative experience … they made me incredibly determined. I wanted to do something that black people hadn't done before” (Dobrzynski). She became involved in student government and civil rights activism at Simmons. During her sophomore year she met Richard Fudge, a graduate student at Harvard's Graduate School of Education. They married in 1971 and had two children. Fudge graduated from Simmons in 1973 with a degree in management. Two of her Simmons professors, Margaret Hennig and Charles Coverdale ...

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Jennifer Curry

president and CEO of the NAACP and telecommunications executive, was born in Camden, New Jersey, one of five children of Walter Gordon, a school administrator, and Violet, a teacher. His father cofounded and served as secretary-treasurer of the Camden chapter of the NAACP, and starting at the age of eight, Gordon accompanied his father to meetings. Because both of his parents were educators, he aspired to enter the field as well. Gordon attended Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, where he majored in anthropology and sociology (liberal arts and sociology according to some sources), earning his bachelor's degree in 1968.

After meeting with an on-campus recruiter, Gordon accepted a management-trainee post with the local phone company, Bell of Pennsylvania. Completing the training program in 1970, he signed on as a business office manager and stayed with the company until his retirement. On 20 February 1970 Gordon married Genie Alston ...

Article

Amanda Harmon Cooley

businessperson, corporate executive, and educator. Dennis Fowler Hightower, the son of Marvin W. Hightower and Anna Virginia Hightower, was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in LeDroit Park, a neighborhood in the District of Columbia in which many other prominent African Americans, from Duke Ellington to the Reverend Jesse Jackson, have lived. As a child Hightower spent time at Camp Atwater in North Brookfield, Massachusetts, which was established in 1921 by William N. DeBerry with the mission to help African American children. After graduating from McKinley High School at age sixteen, Hightower continued his studies at Howard University, earning a bachelor of science degree in 1962.

Then Hightower enlisted in the U S Army beginning an eight year military career that included active service in the Vietnam War His leadership advanced him to the rank of major by the age of twenty seven ...

Article

Elizabeth K. Davenport

businesswoman and civil leader, was born in Washington, D.C., the daughter of Harold “Hal” B. Jackson, a radio personality, and Julia (Hawkins) Jackson, a businesswoman. Her father was a pioneer in the broadcasting industry, whose work in radio and television eventually took the family to New York City.

As a child, Jackson was drawn to the performing arts, especially dance. She studied classical ballet and jazz and was eventually admitted to New York City's High School of the Performing Arts. She continued her dance studies at Bard College from 1961 until 1963. She left the college in 1964 prior to her graduation to get married at age nineteen to Frederick Ward, an advertising copywriter. The marriage ended in divorce in 1967. Jackson McCabe later married Eugene McCabe, president of North General Hospital in New York City, in 1974 That marriage ended in ...

Article

Kadeem Johnson

first African American Yale University football captain and corporate executive, was born in New Haven, Connecticut, to Virginia-born parents, Adaline Hogan Jackson, a house cleaner, and George W. Jackson, a Yale dining hall chef. Not much is known about his childhood, but from his earliest years, Jackson became known for his athleticism and academic achievements.

He joined Hillhouse High School football team after he moved from Branford, Connecticut to New Haven. The Hillhouse football team was 0-7-1 the previous season. In his first year in 1943 he led the team to a perfect 7-0 season and rushed for 272 yards, scoring six touchdowns and adding four extra points in a 52-6 victory over their rival, West Haven. In 1945 Levi Jackson s senior year at Hillhouse the team s record was 7 1 He was selected for the All State team twice He also starred in basketball ...

Article

Emmanuel Asiedu-Acquah

Ghanaian gold miner and business executive, was born in Kibi, a town in the Eastern Region of the Gold Coast (present-day Ghana), on 19 November 1949. His father, Thomas Jonah, was a veteran of the Second World War who had started his own construction business by the time Sam was born. His mother, Beatrice Sampson, was a housewife who sold homemade goods on the side. One of seven siblings and two cousins in the Jonah household, Jonah grew up in the mining town of Obuasi, where his father had relocated as a subcontractor for the Ashanti Goldfields Corporation (AGC/Ashanti Goldfields) in 1950. Sam Jonah received his secondary school education at the prestigious Adisadel College in Cape Coast between 1962 and 1969. After working for about a year as a laborer at the Ashanti Goldfields in 1969 he went on to study mine engineering at the Camborne ...

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Sholomo B. Levy

lawyer, civil rights leader, and corporate executive, was born Vernon Eulion Jordan Jr. in Atlanta, the eldest of two sons of Vernon Jordan Sr., a postal clerk at Fort McPherson, Georgia, and Mary Belle Griggs, proprietor of a catering business, who had a child from a previous union. Jordan was descended from Georgia sharecroppers who had their roots in slavery. His maternal grandfather told young Vernon, “If I could have anything in the world, I'd want to be able to go to the bathroom indoors, in a warm place, one time before I die” (Jordan, 23).

Until the age of thirteen Jordan lived in Atlanta s University Homes the first public housing for black people built in the United States His project as such low income structures would come to be known derived its name from the black college campuses that surrounded it and provided ...

Article

Alexis D. McCoy

lawyer, civil rights activist, and political powerbroker. In his lifetime Jordan has assumed many roles, the most famous being adviser to President Bill Clinton. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Vernon Eulion Jordan Jr. was the second of three sons of Vernon Eulion Jordan, a postal clerk, and Mary Griggs Jordan, a successful caterer. The family lived in public housing until they purchased a house when Vernon was thirteen. Jordan graduated from David T. Howard High School with honors in 1953. After graduation he attended DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, one of five blacks in the entire student body. Graduating from DePauw in 1957 with a BA, Jordan attended Howard University Law School in Washington, D.C., graduating with his law degree in 1960.

While at Howard Law, Jordan met and married Shirley Yarbrough on 13 December 1958 The couple returned to Georgia where ...

Article

One of the most powerful, well-connected lawyers in the United States, Vernon Eulion Jordan Jr. has had a long, sometimes contradictory career. Few civil rights spokespeople of his generation have attained the kind of corporate and political influence Jordan has, an achievement that was enhanced by his position as a top adviser to and close friend of President Bill Clinton. Yet some critics charged that the former National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) field secretary and Urban League president lost touch with his original goals: to improve the economic lives of African Americans.

Jordan was born in Atlanta, Georgia The middle son of a postal clerk and his wife a caterer he was deeply influenced by his mother s drive and business sense As a child he sometimes accompanied her to catering jobs where he observed Atlanta s white establishment especially the Lawyer s Club ...

Article

Andre D. Vann

businessman, civic leader, churchman, and author, was born the eldest son of William Jesse Kennedy, a public school principal, and Katie (Riley) Kennedy, a homemaker, in Andersonville, Georgia. He received his public school training under his father, who was the principal of the local school. Later he was educated at Americus Institute in Americus, Georgia, which was under the auspices of the black Southwestern Georgia Baptist Association, and graduated in 1912. He studied law for a year through textbooks and a correspondence course from LaSalle University, and did special work in business administration through a Columbia University extension course, but did not graduate from either institution. He held a number of jobs ranging from carpenter to meat cutter.

Influenced by an uncle who worked in the insurance industry, he began working at Guaranty Mutual Life Insurance Company of Savannah, Georgia, in 1913 ...

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Jeannette Elizabeth Brown

chemist and corporate leader, was born in Pavo, Georgia, the second of three daughters of Willie Clark and Ola Watts Campbell. Her mother Ola had a third-grade education, and her father Willie was illiterate. Reatha was raised in Moltrie, Georgia, by her mother and aunt after her parents separated when she was young. She had to pick cotton and do the heavy fieldwork that was the typical life in the 1940s for poor sharecroppers' children. African American girls in the rural segregated South had few role models, but she received strong encouragement from her family and community to use her academic ability to overcome social disadvantages.

Clark started school at the age of four in the one room schoolhouse at Mount Zion Baptist Church Clark attended the segregated Moultrie High School for Negro Youth A teacher there encouraged her love of math and science even though the school ...

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Theodore W. Eversole

U.S. ambassador and successful businessman. Born in Arkansas City, Kansas, Delano Eugene Lewis Jr. received a BA in political science from the University of Kansas in 1960 and a JD from Topeka's Washburn University School of Law in 1963. Following law school Lewis initially worked as an attorney in the Justice Department and with the U.S. Equal Opportunities Commission.

From 1965 to 1969 Lewis expanded his experience by serving in the Peace Corps, first as an associate country director in Nigeria and later as director in Uganda. Upon returning from overseas he remained with the Peace Corps as director of the East and South African divisions, a post that gave him particular insights into political conditions inside Africa.

After the Peace Corps, Lewis joined the staff of the District of Columbia's representative in the U.S. House of Representatives, Walter Fauntroy, and remained there until 1973 This introduction to ...

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Johannes Steffens

was born in Chicago, Illinois, the oldest of two sons of Camille and William Lowry, both postal workers. Lowry grew up in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood and graduated from Francis Parker High School in 1952. He studied history at Kenyon College in Ohio, graduating with a B.A. in 1956 and lettering in football, baseball, and basketball. Lowry gained prominence in fraternity circles as “the Kenyon affair” because he was the first African American to join Beta Theta Pi despite opposition from the fraternity’s national chapter and other Southern chapters that were against extending full membership to black students. Lowry completed a part-time master’s program in industrial relations at Chicago’s Loyola University in 1969.

After serving in the U.S. Air Force for two years and working as an athletic director and teacher at his former high school, Lowry joined Inland Steel Company in 1962 as the first black member ...

Article

Anne K. Driscoll

activist, writer, and author, was born Cleotha Payne Lucas in Spring Hope, near Rocky Mount in eastern North Carolina. One of fourteen children born to James Russell Lucas and Minnie Hendricks, Lucas worked from an early age shining shoes and picking cotton. Activism came early to Lucas, who became a member of the NAACP during his junior year of high school. Lucas became a youth representative and eventually organized a voter registration campaign in Spring Hope, at a time when few African Americans in eastern North Carolina were able to vote.

Following graduation from C. C. Spaulding High School in 1951, Lucas began classes at Maryland State College, now the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, in Princess Anne, Maryland. In 1953 Lucas left college and joined the U S Air Force serving as a radio technician for four years and achieving the rank of ...