From the Revolutionary War to today, Stacker compiled 50 Black entrepreneurs along with their influences on the business world—and, often, civil rights.
Notable companies founded by Black entrepreneurs
James Forten: Sailmaker and abolitionist
Paul Cuffee: Whaler and merchant
Thomas Jennings: First African American patent-holder
Stephen Smith: Lumber business owner
Clara Brown: Laundry tycoon and gold mine investor
Lewis Temple: Blacksmith and abolitionist
Lunsford Lane: Enterprising salesman
William Leidesdorff: Real estate mogul and trade aficionado
Frederick Douglass: The North Star
Samuel T. Wilcox: Wholesale and retail grocery
Christiana Carteaux Bannister: The ‘hair doctress’
Joseph Lee: Woodland Park Hotel
Sarah E. Goode: Foldaway bed inventor
Granville Woods: Woods Electric Company
Charles H. James: C.H. James & Co.
John Merrick: Co-founder, North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company
Alonzo Herndon: Atlanta Life
Robert Reed Church: Solvent Savings Bank and Trust
Sarah Breedlove: Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company
Elijah McCoy: Elijah McCoy Manufacturing Company
Leon H. Washington Jr.: The Los Angeles Sentinel
John H. Johnson: Johnson Publishing Company, Inc.
Rose Meta Morgan: Freedom National Bank
Mamon Powers Sr.: Powers and Sons Construction Company
Kevin Cohee: Unity Bank & Trust Company
Edward Lewis, Clarence O. Smith, Cecil Hollingsworth, and Jonathan Blount: Essence Communications Inc.
Earl G. Graves Sr.: Black Enterprise magazine
Janice Bryant Howroyd: ActOne Group
Sheila and Robert L. Johnson: BET
Reginald F. Lewis: TLC Beatrice International Holdings, Inc.
Chris Gardner: Gardner Rich & Co.
Oprah Winfrey: Harpo Studios
David Steward: World Wide Technology
Daymond Garfield John: FUBU
Sean Combs: Bad Boy Entertainment
George Foreman: Foreman Grill
Jay-Z: Roc-A-Fella Records
Albert R. Grace Jr.: Loop Capital Markets
Ronald E. Hall Sr.: Bridgewater Interiors
Rebecca Enonchong: AppsTech
Robert Smith: Vista Equity Partners
Ulysses Lee 'Junior' Bridgeman: Manna, Inc.
Andrea and Henry Jackson: Millennium Steel Service
William ‘Bill’ Cooley: Systems Electro Coating
Sheila C. Johnson: Salamander Hotels & Resorts
Dr. Dre: Beats
Billy R. Vickers: Modular Assembly Innovations LLC
Virgil Abloh: Off-White c/o Virgil Abloh
Morgan DeBaun: Blavity
Troy D. Taylor: Coca-Cola Beverages Florida LLC
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