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When was the first black-owned company listed on a major stock exchange?

  • It was listed on the American Stock Exchange.
  • It's located in Chicago.
  • It was founded on a borrowed $250.
  • It is known for innovations in the beauty care products industry.


1971

Johnson Products

In 1971 Johnson Products became the first black firm to be listed on a major stock exchange when it was listed on the American Stock Exchange. The firm was founded by George Ellis Johnson Sr. (1927-) in 1954. Johnson was the first black elected a director of the board of Commonwealth Edison, in 1971. Johnson was born in Richton, Mississippi, to sharecroppers. He relocated to Chicago with his mother, and attended Wendell Phillips High School until he was forced to drop out to help support his family. He joined Fuller Products and later became a production chemist, developing hair relaxer for men. In 1954 Johnson borrowed $250 from a finance company to establish Johnson products. Later he and his wife turned the company into a multimillion-dollar enterprise known for innovations in the beauty care products industry. In the mid-1980s he lost the company in a divorce settlement.

Sources: Ebony Success Library, vol. 2, pp. 126-31; Encyclopedia of Black America, p. 473; Jet 69 (18 November 1985): 16; Who's Who among African Americans, 26th ed., p. 669.

From Black Firsts: 4,000 Ground-Breaking and Pioneering Events by Jessie Carney Smith, © 2013 Visible Ink Press®. A celebration of achievement, accomplishments and pride.

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