Came From Poverty
AFRICANGLOBE- What do Oprah Winfrey (founder of the Oprah Winfrey Network), Bob Johnson (founder of BET and RLJ Companies), and David L. Steward (founder of World Wide Technology), all have in common? For one thing, they are all very rich African Americans. In fact, they are billionaires who are among the richest people in America. But it goes further than that. They share similar backgrounds, including the fact that they all came from poverty.
Here are 5 things they have in common:
Came from poverty:
* Oprah Winfrey was the child of a struggling teenage single mother.
* Bob Johnson was the ninth out of ten children.
* Dave Steward was born as the son of a homemaker and a mechanic.
Grew Up In Rural/Urban Areas
* Oprah Winfrey was raised in an inner Milwaukee, Wisconsin city neighborhood.
* Bob Johnson grew up in a rural town in Mississippi where the population in the year 2000 was less than 500.
* David Steward was born in Chicago but grew up in Clinton, Missouri, a small town of about 9,000 people, surrounded by rural areas.
Started Out In The 1970’s
* Oprah Winfrey’s career began in 1976 when she became both the youngest news anchor and the first black female news anchor at Nashville’s WLAC-TV. In 1978, she co-hosted WJZ’s local talk show People Are Talking.
* Bob Johnson started out as a press secretary for Corporation for Public Broadcasting, his introduction into the television industry. He then became vice president of government relations at National Cable TV Association, and established Black Entertainment Television (BET) in 1976.
* David Steward’s career started in 1974 as a production manager for an electric company, then a salesman for a railroad company, then an account executive for Federal Express. He owned Transportation Business Specialists and Transport Administrative Services before establishing World Wide Technology.
Partnered With The Right People
* Oprah Winfrey’s influential partners included her grandmother who encouraged her to speak in public, movie critic Roger Ebert who encouraged her to partner with King World, and Discovery Communications with whom she created The Oprah Winfrey Network.
* Bob Johnson’s determination to increase cable network programming for blacks put him in partnership with Taft Broadcasting and HBO who invested with him to grow his cable station.
* David Steward attributes much of his success by partnering with the SBA through its business development program, which made it possible for him to become a top federal contractor able to compete with other big companies.
Never Gave Up
All of these billionaires overcame incredible odds and never gave up.
* Oprah Winfrey was raped at the age of 8, and was pregnant at 14 (her son died in infancy). Despite such horrific experiences, she continued on with her goals and aspirations.
* Despite living in a time of extreme discrmination, Bob Johnson pushed himself with education and became an honors student in high school, went on to get his bachelor’s degree in social studies and his master’s degree in public affairs at Princeton University.
* David Steward, as a child, also faced discrimination and attributes his strength in taking a stand to his success, like integrating the public pool back in his hometown of Clinton, Missouri.