In the 80’s, Reginald F. Lewis was the nation’s richest African-American and the first to build a billion-dollar company. Although Lewis took pride in being a Black man, he didn’t like to be pigeonholed as a result of his race.
Lewis was born December 7, 1942 in Baltimore, Md. Stating, in his words, that his neighborhood was “semi-tough,” Lewis excelled in academics and sports in high school. Entering Virginia State University in 1961 on an athletic scholarship, Lewis majored in economics. After losing his scholarship due to an injury and facing some academic struggle,s Lewis eventually found his footing.
In his final year, Harvard Law School began introducing Black students to legal studies via a summer program. Lewis was selected for the program, and was invited by Harvard to attend its prestigious law school. To date, Lewis is the only individual to be admitted to the school before applying.
With a focus on securities law, Lewis established the first African-American law firm on Wall Street, helping many minority businesses obtain much-needed startup capital.