BOSS: The Black Experience in Business on PBS

Learn about the history of black businesses on BOSS this weekend on PBS.

Boss: The Black Experience in Business explores the history of African American entrepreneurship. Directed by award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson, the new documentary brings the largely unknown stories of enterprising African Americans to the forefront. Learn about the untold story of African American entrepreneurship, where skill, industriousness, ingenuity and sheer courage in the face of overwhelming odds provide the backbone of this nation’s economic and social growth.

The history of business and entrepreneurship lies at the heart of the American story, but often absent from that narrative are the experiences of African Americans. From the country’s earliest days, African Americans have embodied the qualities of innovation, risk-taking and determination to forge a path toward a better life. The new two-hour documentary traces the lives of African American entrepreneurs over 150 years, from those bound by bondage to moguls at the top of million-dollar empires.

Boss: The Black Experience in Business premiered nationwide Tuesday, April 23 at 7:00 p.m. CDT on PBS, locally on NPT and NPT2, broadcast channels 8.1 and 8.2 in Nashville, and continues to air through Sunday, April 28, as follows: Fri, Apr 26 12:00 AM (midnight) 8.1; Fri, Apr 26 3:00 AM 8.2; Sat, Apr 27 2:00 AM 8.1; and Sun, Apr 28 3:00 AM 8.1. You can also watch the entire program and/or selected segments online anytime FREE through May 22, 2019 at www.pbs.org/wnet/boss/video/.

“African Americans have played a central role in the history of American business, but their stories are often left untold,” said Nelson. “Today, as we see talented black businessmen and women not only building successful companies in mainstream America but also emerging as managers and CEOs for some of the most powerful corporate entities in the world, Boss: The Black Experience in Business shares the remarkable stories of a community facing tremendous obstacles to pursue social, political and economic progress.”

Stories featured in the film include those of entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker, publisher John H. Johnson, Motown CEO Berry Gordy, and business pioneer and philanthropist Reginald F. Lewis, among others. The film features new interviews with Vernon Jordan, senior managing director of Lazard, Freres & Co. LLC.; Cathy Hughes, CEO and founder of Urban One; Ursula Burns, former CEO of Xerox and chairman of VEON; Ken Frazier, chairman, president and CEO of Merck & Co., Inc.; Richelieu Dennis, founder, CEO and executive chairman of Sundial Brands; Robert F. Smith, chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Managing Partners, LLC; Earl “Butch” Graves, Jr., CEO of Black Enterprise; and John Rogers, CEO and founder of Ariel Investments.

As a capitalist system emerged in the United States, African Americans found ways to establish profitable businesses in numerous industries, including financial services, retail, beauty, music, and media. Boss: The Black Experience in Business brings viewers on a journey from the end of Reconstruction through the present, tracing the emergence of a stable black business community alongside the greater struggle for civil rights.

Notable historians and scholars help tell the story, including Mehrsa Baradaran, author, The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap; A’Lelia Bundles, journalist, historian and author of On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker; Marcia Chatelain, Associate Professor of History and African American Studies at Georgetown University; Mark Anthony Neal, Professor of Black Popular Culture in the Department of African and African-American Studies at Duke University; Jane Rhodes, Professor of African American History, University of Illinois at Chicago; and Juliet EK Walker, Professor of History, University of Texas at Austin.