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Last week marked the 30th anniversary of an 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 the United States. Besides the outsize money involved in the transaction, Lewis made history as the first African American billionaire business tycoon. His investment banker, Michael Milken,  and the company made the Fortune 500.

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

U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings on Friday 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 was a native of Baltimore, Maryland. On Thursday, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture will celebrate Lewis’ 75th birth anniversary with the event:  Reginald F. Lewis, The Conversation: The $Billion Deal, The Lifestyle, The Man.

His legacy contains many firsts. He became the first (and still the only) person accepted to Harvard Law School before 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 during Black History Month in 2018, public television station WNET is scheduled to release a documentary about his life. He was co-author of the book, Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun?

Click here to read more about his life.

SOURCE: Pittsburgh Courier


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Reginald F. Lewis: The Dealmaker Who Changed The Face Of US Financial History  was originally published on