Black History

Out of the 2,043 people who appear on the 2017 Forbes list of billionaires, only three are African-American: Oprah Winfrey, Robert Smith and Michael Jordan. But before any of them appeared on the list, Robert L. Johnson, 75, became the first African-American billionaire in 2001 thanks to the sale of his cable station Black Entertainment Television (BET), Forbes reports.

Today, Johnson is the owner and chairman of asset management firm RLJ companies, which he founded in 2004. He also sits on the board of many prominent organizations including Lowe’s Co. and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Little known Black History fact

Henrietta Smith Bowers Duterte became the nation’s first Black female undertaker 160 years ago. Along with this historic feat, Duterte was also an essential cog in the Underground Railroad system.

Henrietta Smith Bowers Duterte was born to the Bowers family in July 1817 in Philadelphia as one of 13 children. The affluent, free Black family lived in the city’s “Seventh Ward” district made famous by W.E.B. Du Bois, who studied the region as part of  his “The Philadelphia Negro” report.

Duterte began her career as a tailor and married Haitian-American undertaker Francis Duterte in 1852.

After her husband’s passing in 1858, Duterte assumed the role of running her spouse’s business, which at time defied gender and societal norms. Mr. Duterte was involved in the abolition of slavery, passing on the activism to his wife who aided the Underground Railroad operation. She would hide fugitive slaves attempting to avoid recapture by hiding them in coffins, or disguising them as funeral attendees.

By the time of her passing in December 1903, Duterte’s business earned around $8,000 annually, which would translate into well over $200,000 today, which made it one of the most successful Black-owned ventures of that era.

Black History Month


The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. It was established by Act of Congress in 2003, following decades of efforts to promote and highlight the contributions of African Americans. To date, the Museum has collected more than 36,000 artifacts and nearly 100,000 individuals have become charter members. The Museum opened to the public on September 24, 2016, as the 19th and newest museum of the Smithsonian Institution.

Black History

In the New York City Democratic mayoral primary race against Ed Koch, David Dinkins was always the underdog. Without the support of the city’s powerful political establishment, Borough President Dinkins of Manhattan ran a steady and flawless campaign by strengthening his weaknesses, reaching out to all constituents and exploiting the missteps of the Koch administration.

Starting from the beginning of the campaign, I put much effort into gaining the trust of the candidate and his staff so as to obtain access to private moments. As a result, I was the only media photographer allowed to witness Mr. Dinkins at the crucial moment when the final primary results were tallied and Mayor Koch conceded.

Having observed that his personal style was more cerebral than emotional, I wasn’t at all surprised to watch his family resonate with the emotion of victory, even as Mr. Dinkins sat calmly in his campaign hotel room on a sofa amid his excited wife, daughter and son and their families.

Seemingly underwhelmed by his victory, Mr. Dinkins showed his characteristic calm, much like deep water.