Black history question
February 10, 2017 12:39 PM   Subscribe

A few years back, I've read a story about a black female entrepreneur who created a successful business by hiring a white man to act as the company's face. Her story is as inspiring as it is un-google-able. Please help me find it again!

What I remember of the story: a young black woman started a business, somewhere in the south, during an era when business was wholly closed to women and people of color. Soon after starting it, she hired a white man to act as though it were his company - "act" being the operative word, in that he was not her partner and did not participate in any way other than meet with other white men and pretend it was his company. (It could be my memory embellishing but I recall that this man was an actual professional actor). She eventually grew the business into a sizable regional player that still exists today, although perhaps under a different name and ownership. She ran the company her whole life and died wealthy.
posted by rada to Society & Culture (1 answer total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I found two stories which share aspects of the question, so I wonder if you heard both of them and mixed them up - or it's also possible that I just haven't found the story you're thinking of.

In the late 1800s in the south, Richard Henry Boyd hired a white man to bid for him at auctions for printing machinery. He ran two successful Baptist-centric businesses.

In the 1980s in Harlem, Dorothy Pitman Hughes hired a white man to front as the head of her office-supply company (story is farther down the page). She wrote a book called Wake Up And Smell The Dollars which seems to talk about it (but I think it's mostly business advice). The linked article also mentions that there was a Whoopi Goldberg movie called The Associate about this basic idea.

(I found these by googling "hired a white man" entrepreneur history -twitter (because apparently twitter just hired a white man to oversee diversity, ho ho))
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:50 PM on February 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

« Older Neighbor in potential abusive relationship   |   A history of American political parties Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.