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12 Trailblazing Black Wall Street Bankers, Brokers, Financiers – Paramount Global (NASDAQ:PARA)


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When Jeremiah G. Hamilton passed away in 1875, he was known as the richest Black man in the U.S. Despite that distinction, Hamilton was not part of an investment firm on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

It took 179 years after the NYSE was established in 1792 for a Black investment firm to take a seat: Daniels & Bell in 1971.

Below is a list of 12 Black brokers and financiers who laid the groundwork for today’s generation.

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Thorvald McGregor and Lawrence Lewis: Each of these men is credited by different sources as becoming the first registered Black securities salesmen in 1949. McGregor worked at Mercer Hicks, Lewis for Abraham & Company.

Norman L. McGhee: In 1952, he founded the first Black securities firm, McGhee & Company, which obtained a NASD license.

Lilla St. John: She was the first Black woman to pass the New York Stock Exchange exam in 1953 to work for Oppenheimer & Company.

Harry L. Wright: He founded Wall Street’s first Black-owned securities firm, H.L. Wright & Company in 1960. It was located at 99 Wall Street and in the book, “In the Black: A History of African Americans on Wall Street,” author Gregory St. Bell noted “the building would in the future house notable African American companies such as TLC Beatrice, Daniels & Bell, and would stand next to the offices of E.G. Bowman.” (Bell is the son of the Daniels & Bell founder. See listing below.)

Clarence B. Jones: An attorney who became an allied member of the New York Stock Exchange when he was named partner at Carter, Berlind, Weill & Levitt in 1967. He was a prominent figure in the Civil Rights movement as Martin Luther King’s advisor and speechwriter — among the speeches he contributed to was “I Have a Dream” — and subsequently left Wall Street to become an editor, contributor to media outlets, consultant and educator.

See Also: Michelle Obama To The Rescue? Around Half Of Democrats In Poll Want Someone Other Than Joe Biden To Face Trump In November

Travers J. Bell Jr. and William (Willie) L. Daniels: The duo founded Daniels & Bell in 1971 as the first Black investment firm on the New York Stock Exchange, which at that time had a reputation for membership based on relationships, rather than qualifications.

While looking for a business partner to create this firm, Daniels, from Valdosta, Georgia, was constantly turned down. He found Bell, originally from Chicago, who was recommended to him as someone in the process of doing the same thing. They joined forces to open the firm.

George E. Johnson Sr.: The first Black-owned company, Johnson Products, to be listed on the American Stock Exchange in 1971. (Johnson also sponsored “Soul Train.”)

Ernesta G. Procope: She founded E.G. Bowmen & Co, an insurance brokerage, in 1953 in Brooklyn. By 1979, it became the first and largest minority-owned commercial insurance brokerage on Wall Street, when it moved there.

John W. Rogers Jr.: In 1983, he founded Ariel Investments, the first Black-owned mutual fund firm in the U.S. It is now also the largest minority-run mutual fund firm. He is the company’s chairman and co-CEO. His co-CEO is Mellody Hobson, who is also the chairwoman of Starbucks and the former chairwoman of DreamWorks Animation.  In 2017, she became the first Black woman to head The Economic Club of Chicago.

While Jeremiah G. Hamilton is credited as the first millionaire, others often cited as early millionaires are Madame C.J. Walker, William Liedesdorff, Mary Ellen Pleasant and Robert Reed Church. Also of note: Annie Turnbo Malone, who founded Poro College, a cosmetology school. Madame Walker was one of her students.

The first billionaires? Robert L. Johnson, owner of BET, which went public in 1991. After taking it private in 1998, Johnson and his partners then sold it to ViacomCBS (now Paramount Global) in 2001, making him a billionaire.

Oprah Winfrey is the first Black woman billionaire.

More U.S. billionaires include:
Sports: Tiger Woods, LeBron James, Michael Jordan
Entertainment: Jay-Z (Shawn Carter), Tyler Perry
Tech: Alex Karp
Information Technology: David Steward
Finance: Robert Smith

See Also: The Killing of Black Wall Street: 100 Years Gone By Since Tulsa Race Massacre

Photo: President Barack Obama with Clarence B. Jones, 2015. Pete Souza, White House archives.


“Benzinga’s Top Stocks to Buy Today”

There’s only two mistakes you can make when investing. One is not investing at all. The next is buying the wrong stocks. Get an edge on which stocks to buy with the Benzinga Insider Report, our best weekly stock report sent right to your inbox. Act fast and secure our top stock picks at an unbelievable discount! Claim This Limited $0.99 Offer NOW!


© 2024 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

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