10 Famous Black Businessmen

Only a handful of black men can be justifiably entered onto a list of 10 famous black businessmen.  In order to make the list, black business moguls like Kenneth Chenault and Stanley O’Neal would not be included because they are not hugely famous.  Certain famous black athletes like Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan would not qualify either, because their success stems from athletic skill and endorsements – not from bona fide business skills.  The following is a list of 10 famous black businessmen who successfully made the cut.

  1. Chris Gardner.  The film "The Pursuit of Happyness" (2006) is a depiction of this famous black businessman’s triumphant rise to success from poverty and homelessness. Today, Chris Gardner has his own brokerage firm, Gardner Rich & Co, in addition to being a successful author and motivational speaker.
  2. Russell Simmons. As the founder of Phat Farm, and the co founder of the Def Jam recording label, Russell Simmons is one of the most famous black businessmen in America. Simmons also produces Def Comedy Jam, and he owns Rush Communications and Run Athletics (co-owns with his brother, Joseph “Rev Run” Simmons). 
  3. Shawn Corey Carter (Jay-Z). As a black businessman, Jay-Z is the founder of the Rocawear Clothing Line, and a co-owner of the New Jersey Nets (NBA).  Jay-Z is also a founder of Rock A Fella Records, he was the CEO of Def Jam Records, and he owns several successful commercial real estate businesses.
  4. Sean Combs (Diddy, P. Diddy, Puff Daddy, Puffy). Regardless to what he’s calling himself these days, Sean Combs is a successful and famous black businessman. He owns Bad Boy Records, the Sean Jean and Sean clothing lines, and he has produced recording artists from TLC to Mary J. Blige. 
  5. Earvin ("Magic") Johnson, Jr. Magic Johnson, the former NBA superstar from the Los Angeles Lakers, is a prominent and famous black businessman because he invests in Starbucks, AMC Movie Theaters,  and T.G.I. Fridays' across the country.  Johnson also owns several real estate ventures as well. 
  6. Berry Gordy, Jr. Berry Gordy’s business skills as a record producer have made him responsible for putting the greatest entertainers in the world on the map.  From Michael Jackson to Stevie Wonder, Gordy’s record label, Motown, is a household name and it is synonymous with an entire music genre.
  7. Don King. Don King has risen to fame as a black businessman through his unmatched skills at promoting boxers. King is the man responsible for Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, and Julio Cesar Chavez, and he masterminded comeback fame for Muhammad Ali and George Foreman.
  8. George Foreman. People may recognize his name from his boxing career, but George Foreman is also a successful black businessman.  Foreman has stated that he is perhaps more famous for his George Foreman Grills than he is for boxing – and he has made more money with his grill empire than with his boxing career.
  9. Ulysses (“Junior”) Bridgeman. Junior Bridgeman is a former NBA player with the Los Angeles Clippers and the Milwaukee Bucks.  Bridgeman qualifies as a famous black businessman because he built a hugely successful franchise restaurant empire consisting of over 150 Wendy’s and Chilli’s locations.
  10. John H. Johnson. John H. Johnson founded the Johnson Publishing Company, which publishes Ebony and Jet magazines.  Johnson is also behind the Fashion Fair Cosmetics line.  In 1982, he was the first black businessman to be entered onto the Forbes 400 Richest Americans list.


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