Reginald Lewis may not be well-known to millennials, and that’s a shame because his life and work is black excellence personified. His rich legacy of entrepreneurship and possibility lives on to this day.

How appropriate, then, that his life is being memorialized in a PBS documentary, Pioneers: Reginald F. Lewis and the Making of a Billion Dollar Empire, during Black History Month. Lewis, before his untimely death in 1993 at age 50, seemingly made black history at every turn.

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Lewis was the first African American ever to close an overseas leveraged buyout deal for $985 million. In addition to being the first black billion-dollar deal-maker, Lewis was the first African American to open a law firm on wall street; the first to be accepted to Harvard Law School without applying; and one of the first black men in America to have a museum named after him—the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture in his native Baltimore.


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KOLUMN Magazine celebrates the lives of People of Color by giving our world texture.