This February (Black History Month), PBS will be airing “Pioneers: Reginald F. Lewis and the Making of a Billion Dollar Empire,” which chronicles the life and legacy of business pioneer, philanthropist and titan Reginald F. Lewis, who was a Harvard Law School graduate, venture capitalist, and leader of the global food company TLC Beatrice International.

Lewis was the first American ever to close an overseas billion dollar leveraged buyout deal.

He acquired an unprecedented global conglomerate of 64 companies in 31 countries, and paved the way for future entrepreneurs and black leaders through his life’s work until his untimely death at age 50.

Lewis is also known as the late husband of Loida Nicolas Lewis, a Filipino-American immigration lawyer, businesswoman and civic leader.

“Reginald Lewis was a pioneer because he executed the $1 billion buyout of Beatrice International Foods. No one had done anything of that magnitude before. He was the first American to successfully negotiate a billion dollar overseas leverage buyout,” says Mrs. Lewis.

Additional high praise from Kenneth Chenault, Chairman and CEO of American Express notes, “There is no doubt that Reginald Lewis’ success paved the way for me, and many others, and I think that really is the test and demonstration of real leadership.”


The Lewis Family. Reginald F. Lewis, Loida Nicolas Lewis and their daughters Leslie and Christina.

Reginald F. Lewis rose to prominence as a lawyer, human rights activist, venture capitalist, and then as the first African-American to build a billion-dollar business empire.

Discover his legacy by watching Pioneers: Reginald F. Lewis and the Making of a Billion Dollar Empire on these PBS affiliates:

• Friday, Feb. 16, 8 p.m. WLIW21

• Sunday, Feb. 18, 7:30 p.m. THIRTEEN

• Saturday, Feb. 24, 7 p.m. NJTV

• Available for streaming Nationally at after Feb. 18.

About Reginald F. Lewis

• First to seriously consider the purchase of Paramount Pictures

• First American billion-dollar dealmaker

• Founded the first African-American Law Firm on Wall Street

• First to be accepted at Harvard University Law School without applying

• Among the first five African-Americans to have museums named after them

• At $985 MM, the deal was the largest offshore leveraged buyout ever by an American company


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Reginald F. Lewis with his wife Loida Nicolas Lewis (right) and his mother Carolyn E. Fugett.

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