With the support of the University of Wisconsin-Extension, Regional People of Color, Fit Oshkosh, Wisconsin Public Television, Thelma Arts Center, and Moraine Park Technical College, the showing of “BOSS: The Black Experience in Business” was shown at Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts in Fond du Lac on Wednesday, September 18. Casa Del Tequila provided dinner before the event and UW-Extension Youth Development Educators provided activities for children during the event.

“BOSS: The Black Experience in Business” is a must see two hour documentary that follows the lives of African American entrepreneurs in America over hundreds of years. It is an emotional story of discrimination and racial violence. Despite these barriers, the film also highlighted stories of courage, resilience, and success.

One such story is about Berry Gordy, Jr., the founder of Motown Records.  In 1957, already a successful songwriter, Gordy borrowed $800 from his family to start an R&B record company. Motown played an important role in the racial integration of America. Gordy had a unique gift for recognizing musical talent. Soul music artists under the Motown label include: Four Tops, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, and Diana Ross and the Supremes. Motown was the most successful record label of soul music for its time. Gordy official retired from the entertainment industry on September 24, 2019

Another story is about Ursula Burns. Burns, the former CEO of Xerox, was the first African American woman to serve as CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Burns started her career at Xerox in 1980 as an intern. She held various positions there before serving as CEO from 2009 until 2016.  She led a workforce of over 140,000 employees. She went on to hold the position of chairman of the board at Xerox until 2017 and has held numerous other board positions, including one at Exxon Mobil. She is currently chairman and CEO of an Amsterdam-based telecommunications provider. 

Talented African American businessmen and women have been building successful companies in America for hundreds of years. Today, building upon their predecessors’ contributions, courage, sacrifices and willingness to help each other, we see African American managers and CEOs in most large corporations. To view “BOSS: The Black Experience in Business” check out the official website: https://to.pbs.org/2Tn9klg. The documentary can be rented or purchased on Amazon or iTunes.

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Written by Samantha Rittmeyer