Reginal Lewis overcame numerous obstacles emerging as a successful lawyer, businessman, and philanthropist, and becoming the first Black Billionaire. Reginald embodied self-reliance, and unlike many others, his rise in fortune was achieved without inherited wealth or connections. Born in 1942, in Baltimore, Maryland, Lewis graduated with a degree in political science from Virginia State University, a historically black college. 

In 1965, he was among a few black students chosen for a summer school program at Harvard Law School where he was later invited to attend, becoming the only student in the history of the school to be admitted prior to applying.

After completing law school, Lewis established Wall Street’s first black-owned law firm. After working for 15 years as a corporate lawyer, Lewis established a venture capital firm known as TLC Group L.P. 

His first major deal was the purchase of the McCall Pattern Company, a home sewing pattern business, for $22.5 million. In 1987, Lewis bought Beatrice International Foods from Beatrice Companies for $985 million, renaming it TLC Beatrice International Holdings Inc. 

When TLC Beatrice reported revenue of $1.8 billion in 1987, it became the first black-owned company to have more than $1 billion in annual sales. Reginald Lewis was a big supporter of the Black community and donated large amounts of money to institutions,homeless shelters, and churches. 

One thing that made him stand out was that he did not believe that he should be seen as an important figure because of his race. By the late eighties, Lewis had become one of the richest Black Americans and was listed among the Forbes 400. Reginald continued to do Philanthropy work until his untimely death of brain cancer in 1993. 

In one of Reginald Lewis’s last interviews before he passed, he stated “I’m very proud of the accomplishments of African-Americans, and I’m delighted that people feel this accomplishment adds to that list. But to dwell on race, to see that as something that becomes part of my persona is a mistake, and I do everything I can to discourage it.”


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