Little Known Black History Fact: Joseph Searles

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  • On February 13, 1970, Joseph Searles became the first African American member of the New York Stock Exchange. The Kansas State University graduate was working as an aide for New York City Mayor John Lindsey when he was offered the job as a floor trader and a general partner of Newburger, Loeb and Co.

    Searles was raised in Ft. Hood, Texas.  At 5”11, 145 lbs, Searles was large enough to play with his father’s colleagues on the battalion team at a young age. He attended Killeen High School during the school’s first year of integration and became its first black player. Searles became a star player at Kansas State University. After KSU, he graduated from George Washington University Law school then headed to the pros to play for the New York Giants in the 1960s. Searles was among the few in the league during the civil rights era, and was paid a salary of $14,000. His success, his afro and green Jaguar were among concern by many. He was asked to cut his hair and hide his car when arriving at practice.

    Searles played for the Giants until 1967. Soon after he entered politics, working for Mayor John Lindsey. Searles had two gubernatorial appointments as Chairman and Director of the State of New York Mortgage Agency where he was responsible for municipal housing issues totaling more than $600 million. Within 3 years of leaving the NFL, Searles had quit his job with Lindsay and took on the NY Stock Exchange as its first black floor trader.

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