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Business in Black and White

American Presidents and Black Entrepreneurs in the Twentieth Century

Robert Weems, Lewis Randolph

Publication Year: 2009

Business in Black and White provides a panoramic discussion of various initiatives that American presidents have supported to promote black business development in the United States. Many assume that U.S. government interest in promoting black entrepreneurship began with Richard Nixon's establishment of the Office of Minority Business Enterprise (OMBE) in 1969. Drawn from a variety of sources, Robert E. Weems, Jr.'s comprehensive work extends the chronology back to the Coolidge Administration with a compelling discussion of the Commerce Departmen's "Division of Negro Affairs."

Weems deftly illustrates how every administration since Coolidge has addressed the subject of black business development, from campaign promises to initiatives to downright roadblocks. Although the governmen's influence on black business dwindled during the Eisenhower Administration, Weems points out that the subject was reinvigorated during the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations and, in fact, during the early-to-mid 1960s, when "civil rights" included the right to own and operate commercial enterprises. After Nixon's resignation, support for black business development remained intact, though it met resistance and continues to do so even today. As a historical text with contemporary significance, Business in Black and White is an original contribution to the realms of African American history, the American presidency, and American business history.

Published by: NYU Press


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Title Page, Copyright

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p. v

List of Tables

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p. vii

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pp. ix-x

First I want to acknowledge the contribution of political scientist Lewis A. Randolph to the current study. His discussion of Richard Nixon’s and Robert Kennedy’s 1968 presidential campaigns, as well as his input regarding Vice President Richard Nixon’s chairmanship of the ...

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Introduction: The Initiatives Leading to Black Capitalism

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pp. 1-10

This book surveys historic initiatives supported by American presidents to help African Americans’ quest to participate fully in the American economy. It has been widely assumed that before President Richard Nixon came to office in 1969 seeking to implement his “black ...

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1. The Origins of the Commerce Department’s Division of Negro Affairs, 1925–1940

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pp. 11-38

It is widely assumed that President Richard Nixon’s black capitalism initiative represented the first time that the U.S. government had expressed any interest in assisting African American entrepreneurs.1 While Nixon’s domestic agenda for black America received widespread publicity and generated considerable discussion and analysis, the ...

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2. Emmer M. Lancaster and the Ascendancy and Fall of the Commerce Department’s Division of Negro Affairs,1940–1960

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pp. 39-66

Notwithstanding the historical significance of James A. Jackson, Eugene Kinckle Jones, and Charles E. Hall, Emmer M. Lancaster was arguably the most important head of the Commerce Department’s Division of Negro Affairs. Lancaster, born on April 7, 1898, in Akron, Ohio, was a lawyer whose background included serving as president ...

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3. More Than Civil Rights: The Kennedy and Johnson Administrations and African American Enterprise

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pp. 67-88

Most accounts of the early to mid-1960s related to African American history focus on blacks’ quest for civil rights.1 Traditionally, this period’s civil rights movement is associated with blacks’ multifaceted battle for unfettered access to public accommodations, employment ...

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4. The Democratic Party and Black Capitalism during the Presidential Election of 1968

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pp. 89-109

Richard M. Nixon is generally credited with introducing the notion of black capitalism into the nation’s vocabulary during his 1968 presidential campaign. However, the chief Democratic candidates for the presidency that year, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey and Senator ...

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5. Nixon and the “Militants” The GOP and Black Capitalism during the Presidential Election of 1968

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pp. 110-126

One of the most turbulent periods in American history occurred in 1968. Besides the growing internal discord related to the U.S. military involvement in Vietnam as well as increasing racial polarization, Americans during this fateful year were being asked to elect a new ...

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6. The National Response to Richard M. Nixon’s Black Capitalism Initiative

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pp. 127-156

On March 5, 1969, President Richard M. Nixon signed executive order 11458, which created the Office of Minority Business Enterprise (OMBE) and thus institutionalized his black capitalism campaign slogan.1 Although OMBE’s subsequent performance on behalf of black ...

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7. The Ford Administration and Black Capitalism

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pp. 157-189

Richard Nixon successfully used black capitalism to help defuse domestic urban unrest during his presidency, but his handling of the Watergate Affair was far less skillful. Nonetheless, even though Nixon ultimately left the White House in disgrace on August 8, 1974, ...

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8. The Carter Administration and African American Enterprise

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pp. 190-218

Jimmy Carter, as had Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, gave high priority to minority business enterprise. Some of the accomplishments of his administration in this realm were doubling federal procurement with minority firms; public law 95-507, which directed businesses ...

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Epilogue: Whatever Happened to Black Capitalism?

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pp. 219-226

After winning the presidential election of 1980, Ronald Reagan, who ran on a platform of diminishing the role of government in the lives of the American people, moved quickly to dismantle the vestiges of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. Nevertheless, his administration’s policy ...


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p. 227


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pp. 229-280


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pp. 281-296


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pp. 297-311

About the Authors

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pp. 313-324

E-ISBN-13: 9780814795408
E-ISBN-10: 0814795404
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814775172
Print-ISBN-10: 0814775179

Page Count: 352
Publication Year: 2009

OCLC Number: 794701053
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Business in Black and White

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • African Americans -- Economic conditions -- 20th century.
  • Presidents -- United States -- Racial attitudes -- History -- 20th century.
  • United States -- Politics and government -- 1945-1989.
  • United States. Dept. of Commerce -- History -- 20th century.
  • United States -- Politics and government -- 1919-1933.
  • United States -- Race relations -- Political aspects -- History -- 20th century.
  • Entrepreneurship -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Capitalism -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • United States -- Politics and government -- 1933-1945.
  • African American businesspeople -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
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