In the Black: A History of African Americans on Wall Street (Black Enterprise)

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9780471403920: In the Black: A History of African Americans on Wall Street (Black Enterprise)
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The never-before-told story of five decades of African Americans on Wall Street Here, for the first time, is the fascinating history of the African American experience on Wall Street as told by Gregory Bell, the son of the man who founded the first black-owned member firm of the New York Stock Exchange. A successful finance professional in his own right with close ties to leading figures in both the black financial and civil rights communities, Bell tells the stories of the pioneers who broke down the ancient social and political barriers to African American participation in the nation s financial industry. With the help of profiles of many important black leaders of the past fifty years including everyone from Jesse Jackson and Maynard Jackson, former mayor of Atlanta, to E. Stanley O Neal, COO and President of Merrill Lynch, and Russell Goings, founder of First Harlem Securities and cofounder of First Harlem Securities he shows how in the years following World War II the growing social, political, and financial powers of African Americans converged on Wall Street. Set to publish during Black History Month, In the Black will be warmly received by African American business readers and general readers alike.

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Review:

The son of the first African-American to control a seat on New York Stock Exchange undertakes a history of blacks on Wall Street.
The WASP echelons of the securities industries were slow to come into the 20th century. But finally, after the Irish and the Jews, African-Americans were admitted to the magic place where you got cash simply for the exchange of paper. Bell, whose father founded the now-defunct firm Daniels & Bell Inc. in 1971, begins the story of the industry's democratization in the 1960s, when three black men worked amid Merrill Lynch's more than 2,500 brokers. Progress was sometimes impeded by such expected institutions as the regulatory agencies (bane of brokers white and black) and unexpected ones like CORE, which feared Wall Street firms would drain cash from Harlem. But aided by evolving federal public policy and to a surprising extent the assistance of many who themselves had been admitted to the club not long before, African-Americans learned to master the games perfected by others. Black brokers became black investment bankers. Struggling minority firms were promoted in the '70s and '80s by major cities' newly elected African-American mayors, who insisted on black managers for new municipal bond issues. Although Bell frequently alludes to problems with securities laws and regulations, which seem to have been common, he does not elaborate on them (For example, he seems not to notice that one firm apparently paid commissions to salespeople who were not registered representatives). As the tale becomes more checkered, the author warms a bit to the details, though the drama is largely related deadpan. With just a nod to the inevitable legal and personality problems, this reads much like a commissioned corporate history. Still, the tale of the energetic, bright young heroes who went where no blacks had gone before is inherently powerful and important. Credible, if sometimes bland. (Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2001)

Wall Street has been responsible for creating an enormous amount of wealth in the United States, but according to Bell, the son of the man who founded the first black-owned member firm of the New York Stock Exchange, not much of that has found its way into the pockets of African Americans. This book, which charts the African American experience on Wall Street, doesn't contain much prior to the 1960s, but the author offers in-depth coverage of the past 40 years, showing how small, black-owned investment houses got started. Many of these small start-ups were undercapitalized, and while they grew during the good times, they frequently failed during the bad. The author suggests that the "old boy" white network was, in part, responsible for keeping blacks out, and there is some truth to that. However, the times have changed, with Wall Street investment banks actively recruiting minorities and black-owned asset management firms thriving. Unfortunately, the book suffers from spotty research and is not well written or edited. Still, this is the only book to offer much-needed research in this area and is appropriate for larger public library nonfiction collections and African American studies. --Richard Drezen, Washington Post, New York City Bureau (Library Journal, December 2001)

Tough, resourceful and determined, the small band of early African-American pioneers venturing into Wall Street's fast-paced, hard-driving financial markets have not often been recognized for their achievements. Bell's history of those men who made a difference corrects that oversight. Bell (whose father, Travers Bell, worked for the New York Stock Exchange's first black-owned firm) brings an insider's view to the realm of investment banking and finance, starting with a brief biography of his family-a clan enamored with trading and brokerage, but hampered by the restraints of Jim Crow. With well-researched support and measured prose, Bell chronicles the first black attempts to penetrate the securities industry pre- and post-Civil War. Little-known facts, such as the entry of the first black registered stockbrokers and salesmen on "'The Street" in the early 1940's and the importance of black firms like McGhee & Company and Patterson & Company, underline the relentless struggle these men endured. Some of the best segments come in Bell's recounting of their difficulties during the turbulent 1960) and 70S, when slow yet persistent progress was made on several fronts against discriminatory practices on Wall Street, beginning with Merrill Lynch's hiring of three black brokers in 1965. For those seeking a close, informed look at the long, heroic battle by black businessmen and brokers to seize a piece of the action on Wall Street, this book is a source -lean, informative and devoid of filler or tirades. (lan. 25) (Publishers Weekly, December 24, 2001)

"One glance at Mr. Bell's footnotes...almost devoid of other books in the field, underscores the importance of his groundbreaking effort." (The New York Times, January 13, 2002)

Just in time for Black History Month and to add to the growing lexicon in African-American achievement is the publication of In the Black: A History of African Americans on Wall Street (Wiley; $24.95; 256 pages, ISBN 047140392X) by Gregory S. Bell. Every Wall Street history buff and those who work in the markets should read this new historical account.
The author is the son of Travers Bell, whose firm made history when it became the first black-owned member of the New York Stock Exchange. Bell has an intimate knowledge of Wall Streets, its history and the importance of African Americans in its evolution and future. From the Black Wolf of Broadway to Jesse Jackson and the civil rights activism of the 1960s, Wall Street was influenced by and influenced African Americans. In the Black highlights the little-known achievements and input African Americans had in its development and success. No two ways about it, this is an important book that covers new ground in African-American and financial history. In the Black reveals through anecdotes and stories a new and surprising historical view of Wall Street and its practices. (BookPage, February 2002)

From the Back Cover:

Acclaim for In The Black

"A compelling account of the pioneers who broke the color barrier on Wall Street and began a story that is still being written." --E. Stanley O?Neal, President and COO, Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc.

"In the Black is an inspiring yet fair account of how African Americans overcame the challenges of our society on Wall Street. It wonderfully depicts how these pioneers hurdled the obstacles of yesterday and positioned themselves for tomorrow's challenges." --Bill Donaldson, cofounder, Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette

"In the Black is highly valuable reading for anyone who wants to learn how African Americans overcame the obstacles of racism in the financial world. The book vividly illustrates all the pioneers who paved the way for future generations in the capital markets, and Gregory Bell does an outstanding job of chronicling their efforts." --David N. Dinkins, 106th Mayor, City of New York

"As the CEO of the first black-owned company to be publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange, I appreciate the difficulties and challenges that African Americans must face. In the Black does a remarkable job of chronicling the work of so many pioneers who have fought for change in the Wall Street arena." --Robert L. Johnson, CEO, BET Holdings

"Gregory Bell's In the Black is a mix of biography and business coupled together to illustrate a story of progress by African Americans in the world of high finance. Out of my own history of involvement in law, business, and politics, I find Mr. Bell's book a fascinating account of how political, financial, and social power within the African-American community helped push forward our role on the largest stage in all of finance: Wall Street." --Percy E. Sutton, Chairman Emeritus, Inner City Broadcasting Corporation

"In the Black is an enlightening story about profits, losses, and the triumph of the human spirit. Gregory Bell does a superb job of narrating the important history of African Americans who fought for their fair share of opportunity and prosperity on Wall Street." --Alexis M. Herman, U.S. Secretary of Labor, 1997?2001

"Gregory Bell's book provides a great reference for everyone concerned with diversity on Wall Street today. In the Black effectively chronicles the progress we?ve made so far in our quest for a securities industry where the only color that matters is green." --Marc E. Lackritz, President, Securities Industry Association

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