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Leaders to celebrate business mogul's legacy

11/21/2012, 3:43 p.m.
Some of the most prominent business and political leaders in the United States will gather...
Leaders to celebrate business mogul's legacy

Some of the most prominent business and political leaders in the United States will gather on Nov. 30 at an exclusive midtown Manhattan club to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the $1 billion acquisition of Beatrice International Foods by Reginald F. Lewis, the noted African-American entrepreneur and philanthropist.

His widow, Loida Nicolas Lewis, a Filipino-American and distinguished businesswoman in her own right, financier Michael Milken, CNN Analyst Roland Martin and former New York City Mayor David Dinkins will host the celebration of Reginald Lewis' life and legacy. Blue-chip corporations J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, GE Asset Management, Morgan Stanley, Bloomberg, Ariel Capital and American Express will join them to mark the moment 25 years ago when an African-American broke through the glass ceiling, bidding for and winning the Beatrice International empire that included 64 companies in 31 countries.

"My husband worked for the day when success can be enjoyed by people regardless of race or background. Through tenacity, hard work and determination, he paved the way for others to do the same today," said Loida Lewis. "There are many people who have been inspired by his life to pursue their dreams and to 'keep going, no matter what.'"

Milken, who began financing in 1969 and has since financed 3,200 companies and created millions of jobs while accelerating medical solutions for a wide range of life-threatening diseases, will be the featured speaker at the affair, which will include a video of Reginald Lewis' life.

Lewis was born in Baltimore, attended Virginia State University and then Harvard Law School. He became a lawyer at the top New York firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind & Garrison before establishing his own firm of Lewis & Clarkson.

Lewis wanted to do his own deals and formed TLC Group in 1983. His first success was the leveraged buyout of McCall Pattern Company, a 113-year-old home sewing-pattern company, realizing a 90-to-1 return for his investors.

One of Lewis' motivations was to "disprove a lie" about people of color. He gave $10 million to various educational, cultural, health and civil rights causes. His career was cut short when he died following a short illness in 1993 at the age of 50.

Today, his name graces the International Law Building at Harvard Law School, a building at Virginia State University and the Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture.

Proceeds of the special dinner will benefit the museum, which shares the contributions of African-American Marylanders from the state's earliest history to the present, in Lewis' hometown in Baltimore.

For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit www.reginaldflewis.com or contact sharon@purplegiraffeproductions.com or 646-389-9615.

In celebration of this special 25th anniversary, a special commemorative edition of Lewis' biography, "Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun? How Reginald Lewis Created a Billion-Dollar Business Empire," is being re-issued by Black Classic Press. It is available on www.blackclassicbooks.com.