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Last week marked the 30th anniversary of a historic deal closed by Reginald Francis Lewis for $985 million that changed the face of financial dealmaking in the United States. 

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On November 30, 1987, Lewis closed the leveraged buyout of Beatrice International Foods, which at the time was the largest offshore transaction in US history. This groundbreaking transaction would establish Lewis as the first African American billionaire business tycoon, placing himself,  his investment banker, Michael Milken, and the company on the prestigious Fortune 500 list.

“We want the new generation to be inspired by the work of RFL on that November 30, 1987.” Loida Lewis, his widow recently told Pittsburgh Courier. “He demonstrated his belief in and commitment to human rights, civil rights and economic development.”

U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings marked the anniversary of the historic deal by placing the financial transaction milestone in the U.S Congressional Record in honor of Lewis’ work.

Lewis died in 1993, just one day after announcing that he had been diagnosed with brain cancer. Writer Blair S. Walker used the 50-year-olds unfinished memoir to craft Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun?, an inspiring look at the financier’s life and work that would become a national bestseller.

His legacy contains many firsts. He became the first (and still the only) person accepted to Harvard Law School before actually applying to the prestigious school. Today, the Reginald F. Lewis International Law Center is the first Harvard Law School building to be named for an African American.

Highlights of Lewis’ exceptional life are on display at the Smithsonian National African American Museum of History and Culture in Washington, D.C. and at the museum named for him in his native Baltimore.

On Thursday, December 7th, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture will celebrate 75th anniversary of his birth with a special event, “Reginald F. Lewis, The Conversation: The $Billion Deal, The Lifestyle, The Man.”  Speakers include Keith Perrin, the co-founder of the iconic FUBU streetwear brand.

Click here to read more about the fascinating life of Reginald F. Lewis.

SOURCE: Pittsburgh Courier


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