When you think rich African-Americans, you probably think NBA stars or celebrities.
Many folks have noticed in listings of the wealthiest black people in America that many of them made their money in the entertainment industries. While it is certainly true that many successful black individuals are overwhelmingly represented in the entertainment industries, there is certainly a sizable amount of African-Americans who are leading their companies and having tremendous success in non traditional areas.
From Alabama to Chicago to New York, here’s a list of successful African-Americans you didn’t know exist.
9. Jan Adams
Born in April 21, 1954 in Middletown, Ohio, Jan Adams is a cosmetic surgeon and television personality. Known for being the surgeon who operated on Kanye West’s mom before her sudden death in November 2007, Dr. Adams is reportedly said to have made about $46 million this year.
8. Cornell Boggs
Cornell Bogg, III is a senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary for Dow Corning Corporation, a global legal, government affair, corporate security in charge of ethics and compliance functions. Cornell grew up in a broken home and faced a challenging childhood including racial treatment in school.
7. Torrence Boone
Torrence Boone is the vice president of global agency sales and services at Alphabet, Inc. Born to a poor family, he started as a local dancer in Baltimore and worked his way up in the arts arena before his career with top tech giant Alphabet.
6. Kenneth Frazier
Kenneth Frazier is the CEO of Merck & Co., Inc. He is the one of the first African-American CEO of a pharmaceutical company. He doubles as a successful pro bono lawyer who aided the release of a wrongly accused Alabama African-American man from death row. In his early days in Penn State University where he graduated from, he worked in a local aquarium and never thought he can be where he’s at right now.
5. Robert Johnson
Robert L. Johnson is the first black American billionaire to provide for the world a voice for all things African-American. As the CEO of BET Entertainment, he has a great influence on the television shows, hip-hop, R&B, soul, and movies impacting African-Americans. A native of Mississippi, he grew up in a poor family but that didn’t stop him from pursuing success. Growing up, he would prioritize the need for knowledge and worked hard to gain an academic scholarship to Illinois University where he graduated in 1968 with a bachelor’s degree. With the skills he attained in college, he went on to work for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting leading to where he is right now.
4. Ursula Burns
Ursula Burns is an African-American woman who is the CEO of paper and copy giant Xerox. Ranked as the 14th most powerful woman in the world, Ursula didn’t grow up in a well-to-do family. Raised by a single mother, Burns worked hard as a child and was a math ace throughout her schooling. She earned an engineering degree from the Polytechnic Institute of New York and went on to do her post-graduate work at Columbia University. In 1980, she served as an intern with Xerox and the rest is history.
3. Rosalind Brewer
Rosalind Brewer is the president and CEO of Sam’s Club, a members-only warehouse club with $57 billion in recent annual revenue. Brewer grew up in Detroit, Michigan, and graduated from Spelman College with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry.
2. Berry Gordy, Jr
Berry Gordy, Jr is an American success story. Born not with a silver spoon, Gordy was determined to succeed. At a very young age, he borrowed $800 million from his parents to build his own record label which paid off eventually.
1. Lilicia Bailey
Lilicia Bailey is the executive vice president of chief people officer at Belk, Inc, a privately-owned company. Like many underdogs, she rose to success via hard work despite being born to a poor family. It goes to show that excelling in academics pays off at the end of the day.