Reginald F. Lewis (December 7, 1942 – January 19, 1993) grew up in a middle-class East Baltimore neighborhood in Maryland. He won a football scholarship to Virginia State College, graduating with a degree in economics in 1965. He graduated from Harvard Law School in 1968 and was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi.
In 1992, Forbes listed Lewis among the 400 richest Americans, with a net worth estimated at $400 million. He also was the first African American to build a billion dollar company, Beatrice Foods.
Below is a summary of Lewis' remarkable accomplishments over the 50 years of his life, told in his voice, and those of his adoring family and friends. Please support Lewis' legacy by supporting The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture.
Should White Guys Have All the Fun”: How Reginald Lewis Created a
Billion-Dollar Business Empire
Click to Order Directly from Black Classic Press
by Reginald F. Lewis and Blair Walker
Paper. 318 pp. 28 photos
Publisher: Black Classic Press
Before his death in 1993, Reginald F. Lewis created a global business
empire worth over a billion dollars. He was 50 years old.
In celebration of one of the most powerful and successful American businessmen in history, Black Classic Press announces a Limited Commemorative Edition of Lewis’s inspiring and enduring autobiography, “Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun?”.
When Reginald F. Lewis’s widow, Loida Lewis, approached Black Classic Press to publish a commemorative edition of her husband’s inspiring and enduring autobiography, “Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun?” our answer was an immediate “yes.”
The commemorative edition, as Mrs. Lewis described it, was to coincide with Reginald Lewis’s seventieth birthday (December 7) and to overlap and acknowledge the twentieth anniversary of his passing (January 19). This edition would include an exclusive DVD which features two segments: the American Legacy television episode focusing on Mr. Lewis and the tribute video shown at his memorial service, as well as a new introduction written by Lewis’s daughter, Christina Lewis Halpern, a new foreword by Richard Parsons, former chairman of Citigroup and former chairman and CEO of Time Warner, Inc., and remarks from key leaders in business and education who were each profoundly influenced by Lewis’s business savvy and generosity. Also featured are institutions that honor him in name and allow the legacy and values that constituted his life, such as the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture and the Reginald F. Lewis International Law Center at Harvard University.
A portion of Parson’s Foreword follows:
Several years ago, on the eve of Barack Obama’s inauguration as the forty-fourth President of the United States, I wrote a piece for USA Today entitled “The Last First?” The substance of that essay was that, for the better part of the twentieth century, Americans have been marking the advancement of African Americans by calling out a series of individual “firsts.” For example, Jack Johnson is renowned as the first Black heavyweight champion of the world, Jackie Robinson as the first Black to break into baseball’s major leagues, Thurgood Marshall as the first Black member of the US Supreme Court, and so forth. With the election of Barack Obama to the highest office in the land, it was my thought that perhaps we’d reached the end of that line and the attainment of the ultimate prize: the “last first.”
Upon re-reading “Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun?” I realized that I left one towering figure out of my listing of significant firsts: Reginald F. Lewis, a true business pioneer and the first Black man to create and run a multi-billion dollar empire. The re-release of this important book afford me the opportunity to correct that oversight. …
For those of you climbing the ladder of success in the world of business and commerce, “Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun?” tells you how one man got it done and gives valuable insights in to how you might also.
This renewed edition is a living, breathing, continuing testament to Reginald Lewis’s passion for “the deal” and for life itself.
Keep Going No Matter What: The Reginald F. Lewis Legacy: 20 Years Later
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Ponchitta Pierce (Author), Loida Nicolas Lewis (Introduction)
Paperback: 112 pages
Publisher: Bookmark Publishing (December 21, 2012)
Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.3 inches
"This book is dedicated to the legacy of my beloved husband, Reginald F.
Lewis, on the 20th Anniversary of his transition to eternal life. He left us
—Loida Nicolas Lewis
Featuring interviews from some of the most prominent names in today's business world, this full-color book shares the influence that Reginald Lewis continues to have on many successful and up-and-coming entrepreneurs.
November 30, 2012 marked the 25th Anniversary of the purchase of Beatrice International Foods by Reginald F. Lewis. The acquisition by Lewis, at a cost of $985 million dollars, cast the normally publicity shy Lewis into the international spotlight and made the world his arena. Not bad for a guy who grew up in what he once described as a “semi-tough” neighborhood in Baltimore, MD.
In Keep Going No Matter What—The Reginald F. Lewis Legacy: 20 Years Later,
numerous individuals—some who knew Reginald F. Lewis and others who were
inspired by his book “Why should white guys have all the fun?” How Reginald
Lewis Created a Billion-Dollar Business Empire—share their compelling
stories about how his life impacted theirs.
"He was intense. He was focused. His entrepreneurial spirit was inspiring. It was clear that we were hearing from a man who was going to make a difference in the world around him."
—Kenneth I. Chenault, Chairman and CEO, American Express
Loida Nicolas Lewis
Loida Nicolas Lewis
In 1987, Reginald F. Lewis, won the operations of Beatrice International Foods in a $985 million leveraged buyout. It was the largest of its kind at that time. In 1992, he was listed in Forbes Magazine as among the 400 wealthiest Americans. He died of brain cancer, at the age of fifty, in 1993.
After his death, Loida served as Chair and CEO of TLC Beatrice International Holdings, Inc. She won over the business community by moving quickly to increase earnings and pay down debt. In 1995, she was on the cover of Working Woman magazine as the “Top Businesswoman in America.” After running the company, she completed the sale of TLC Beatrice, achieving a 35% internal rate of return on investment.
Loida is now Chair and CEO of TLC Beatrice, LLC, a family investment firm. A lawyer by profession, she was the first Filipino woman to pass the New York Bar without attending law school in the United States.
Loida Nicolas Lewis served for ten years as General Attorney with the Immigration and Naturalization Service and co-authored the best-seller, How to Get a Green Card, now in its 10th edition.
A leader in the Filipino-American community, she is one of the founders of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations, the Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund, the U.S. Pinoys for Good Governance, organized after the election of Benigno Simeon Aquino III as President of the Philippines.
A well-regarded philanthropist, in 1998 Loida funded the People’s Alternative Livelihood Foundation of Sorsogon Inc. in her hometown. The foundation has since helped lift 20,000 families out of poverty. She succeeded her husband as Chair of the Reginald F. Lewis Foundation, which has given millions of dollars to educational and cultural institutions. Loida was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the National Catholic Reporter, an independent news organization with a global reach, and the Apollo Theater Foundation. She speaks Filipino, English, French, and Spanish.
Loida has two daughters, both cum laude B.A. graduates of Harvard University. Leslie is an actor and playwright, having written “Miracle in Rwanda.” Christina, after a five-year stint with the Wall Street Journal, is a journalist and author of the best-selling Lonely at the Top. Loida has three grandchildren, Christian, Savilla, and Calvin, and two sons-in-law, Gavin Sword and Dan Halpern.
at the Top (eBoook)
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by Christina Lewis Halpern (Author)
Print Length: 38 pages (eBoook)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
"Christina Lewis Halpern offers a relatable and eye-opening window into her family, racial progress in America and just what success really is." —Baratunde Thurston
Anxiety, fear of failure, self-consciousness: these are not the qualities you imagine when you hear the word “heiress." But in this powerful account, Christina Lewis Halpern applies a journalist's eye to her own struggles following the death of her father, the late entrepreneur Reginald F. Lewis, when she was 12.
Christina Lewis Halpern
At the time of his death in 1993, Halpern's father was the richest black man in America, the Jackie Robinson of American business. His bestselling biography, "Why Should White Guys Have All The Fun?" details his amazing-rags-to-riches journey from the poverty of segregated Baltimore to the board rooms of Wall Street.
This essay, a mix of memoir and reportage, is an exploration of Lewis's legacy: a bluntly honest and deeply human account of what it’s like to be the sensitive child of a rich and powerful man. As Halpern follows the past to seek the secrets of her father’s success, focusing on his time at Harvard Law School, we learn the story of an American legend, but also the complexities of living with his legacy.
F. Lewis Before TLC Beatrice: The Young Man Before The Billion-Dollar Empire
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Paperback: 248 pages
Publisher: LHA Publishing Company (October 31, 2012)
Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.9 x 8.9 inches
As the man behind the unprecedented 1987 leveraged buyout of Beatrice Foods, Reginald F. Lewis established himself as a respected titan of Wall Street. His standing as the CEO of a billion dollar conglomerate while in his mid-forties surprised many, especially in light of his middle-class, African-American roots in Baltimore, Maryland. Yet the reality that Lewis, without the advantages of inherited wealth or family connections, would amass a fortune placing him on the Forbes 400 list of America's wealthiest individuals is undeniable and serves to amplify the truly remarkable achievement of this pioneering businessman. What prepared the young man who would become one of the world's most respected executives for this unimaginable rise to the top. What can be learned from the formative years that shaped and molded Reginald F. Lewis into an American success story.
Lin Hart's informative and inspirational new book, Reginald F. Lewis Before TLC Beatrice: The Young Man Before the Billion-Dollar Empire, sets out to explore and shed first-hand insight on these precise topics. Focusing on the ten years between 1956 and 1966, when Baltimore teenagers Lin Hart and Reginald F. Lewis were particularly close, the book draws on shared experiences and memories from their years as high school students and then as college roommates at Virginia State. With each entertaining, personal story, Lin Hart underscores the qualities that emerged during this period of Lewis's life, many of which would play a role in his future successes. Throughout what is clear is Lewis's will to succeed, his supreme confidence, and his unrelenting pursuit to move beyond the ordinary to become extraordinary. Richly layered with motivational insight and lovingly told with honest integrity, Reginald F. Lewis Before TLC Beatrice combines the best attributes of a rousing memoir with the direct imperative of a self-help book, holding up the exceptional life of Reginald F. Lewis as an indisputable model for success.
Following the 1987 leveraged buyout of Beatrice Foods, Reginald F. Lewis was solidly positioned as CEO of a billion dollar conglomerate and a major player on Wall Street. Still in his forties, with a personal fortune that placed him on the Forbes 400 list, this pioneering businessman had achieved unimaginable success without the advantages of inherited wealth or family connections. What prepared this young African-American man from middle-class Baltimore to become one of the world's most respected executives? What can be learned from the formative years that shaped and molded Reginald F. Lewis into an enduring American success story?
Maryland native Linwood (Lin) Hart lived in the same West Baltimore neighborhood that the Lewis family moved to in 1952. He and young Reginald met and became close in 1956, and they would later become roommates and football teammates at Virginia State, remaining friends until Mr. Lewis's death in 1993. Lin Hart retired in 1995 from AT&T, where he was a Network Systems Engineering Director, and started his own company, Lin Hart & Associates, which specializes in professional speaker services and leadership coaching.
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