Explore the complicated history of African-American entrepreneurship in America

The history of business and entrepreneurship lies at the heart of the American story, but often absent from that narrative are the experiences of African Americans.

“Boss: The Black Experience in Business” tells some of those forgotten stories and trends Tuesday, April 23, at 7 p.m. on Arizona PBS.

From the country’s earliest days, African-Americans have embodied the qualities of innovation, risk-taking and determination to forge a path toward a better life. The documentary, made by Peabody- and Emmy- winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson, traces the lives of African-American entrepreneurs over 150 years, from those bound by bondage to moguls at the top of million-dollar empires.

As a capitalist system emerged in the United States, African-Americans found ways to establish profitable businesses in numerous industries, including financial services, retail, beauty, music and media.

Tying together the past and the present, the film explores inspiring stories of trailblazing entrepreneurs and the significant contributions of contemporary business leaders. Stories featured in the film include those of entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker, publisher John H. Johnson, Motown CEO Berry Gordy, and business pioneer and philanthropist Reginald F. Lewis, among others.

Journey from the end of Reconstruction through the present, tracing the emergence of a stable black business community alongside the greater struggle for civil rights.

 

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