Three African-Americans make it to the Fortune 500

Taylor Tucker, Staff Writer

The Fortune 500 is a list of the 500 largest American corporations by total revenues for their respective fiscal years, according to It is published by Fortune Magazine and the list includes public and privately held companies for which revenues are publicly available, explains

In 2019, according to Black Enterprise Magazine, there were only three African-Americans Chief-Executive Officers, or CEOs, in the Fortune 500: John W. Thompson of Virtual Instruments; Kenneth Frazier of Merck & Co, Inc.; and Roger W. Ferguson Jr. of TIAA-CREF.

Mr. Thompson worked as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Microsoft, Chairman and CEO of Symantec Corporation, a senior executive in sales, marketing, and software development for IBM, and other prestigious positions. He also has served on the National Infrastructure Advisory Committee (NIAC), on the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, and as chair as the Silicon Valley Blue Ribbon Task Force on Aviation Security and Technology. He is part owner of the Golden State Warriors and is on the board of directors for Liquid Robotics and DOMO, “an emerging platform for business intelligence,” according to He holds degrees from Florida A&M, MIT’s Sloan School of Management and an honorary doctorate from Notre Dame University.

Mr. Frazier has also served as president for Merck, representing the Global Human Health division, the Manufacturing and Supply Division and the Research Laboratories division. He has held offices with the Astra Merck Group, working his way up the corporate ladder since 1992. Before that, he was a Partner in the Litigation Department of a law firm known as Drinker, Biddle and Reath. He has also served on the boards of Exxon Mobil Corporation, Pennsylvania State University, Cornerstone Christian Academy, Ithaka, the Council of the American Law Institute, the American Bar Association and the Council of Foreign Relations. Mr. Frazier earned his law degree from Harvard and has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Pennsylvania State.

Mr. Ferguson Jr. also has an impressive history. Working with TIAA-CREF, he provides research of retirement services in a variety of fields. He has served as Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors for the U.S. Federal Reserve and also served on the Federal Open Market Committee, on the Financial Stability Forum and on several Federal Reserve Board committees. He has been head of financial services for Swiss Re American Holding Corporation and served as a partner at McKinsey & Company after beginning his career with Davis, Polk & Wardwell in New York. In addition, Mr. Ferguson is a “fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and co-chairs its Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education,” according to the article. He also serves on a handful of additional professional boards and is a member of several professional organizations. He earned his degrees in economics – a B.A., J.D., and a Ph.D. – from Harvard

Salaries for CEOs vary, but the worth of each of these men is well into the millions, with combined perks, bonuses and salaries. They’ve clearly worked hard and put a lot into the community and making decisions for their own businesses as well as for the direction of a variety of companies and services. While this is reportedly the lowest number of African-American CEOs in over a decade, there is always opportunities for more to join their ranks in the future.

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