Robert Johnson: First Black Billionaire

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Robert L. Johnson, founder and CEO of Black Entertainment Television (BET), became the first African-American majority owner of a U.S. professional sports franchise when the National Basketball Association announced he'd be the owner of a new NBA franchise in Charlotte, N.C. at a press conference in New York 18 December, 2002.   (Credit: HENNY RAY ABRAMS/AFP/Getty Images)

Robert L. Johnson, founder and CEO of Black Entertainment Television (BET), became the first African-American majority owner of a U.S. professional sports franchise when the National Basketball Association announced he’d be the owner of a new NBA franchise in Charlotte, N.C. at a press conference in New York 18 December, 2002. (Credit: HENNY RAY ABRAMS/AFP/Getty Images)

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LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC/WPGC) - As the creator of the nation’s first black cable television network BET, Robert Johnson became the first African American billionaire and the first black person listed on any of the Forbes world’s richest lists.

But his firsts don’t stop with TV. Johnson started the first minority-owned asset management firm, RJL Companies based in Bethesda, and became the first black American to be principle owner of a north American major league sports franchise, the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats.

The entrepreneur has also been outspoken about how to create jobs for black people.

“Since black people who start businesses hire more black people — just the way businesses work, you start a business, hire your friends, hire people in your neighborhood — if you want to get more black people to work, start more small black businesses.”

Check back all month for WPGC’s tribute to Black History Month.

99.1 WNEW’s Cheryl Simone contributed to this report

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