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Western New England Law Review

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In this Article, I describe some of the subtle, obscure, and hidden challenges that African-American entrepreneurs face by providing the narratives of three African-American businesspeople. Two of the narratives are about African Americans who started businesses in the first half of the twentieth century. Theirs is a success story. Their businesses thrived. Yet, for a variety of reasons, the success these two entrepreneurs enjoyed would be unlikely today, even with the legislation and policy initiatives enacted in the latter half of the twentieth century and aimed at providing access to opportunities for people of color. The third narrative is about a twenty-first-century businesswoman, Ernesta Procope, an African-American woman who has headed Wall Street’s largest minority-owned firm for decades. Her story is also a success story, but it is a story about success achieved in spite of subtle and perhaps unconscious decision making that impedes the entrepreneurial achievement of twenty-first-century African Americans. This twenty-first-century narrative reveals the intractability of the problem of lack of access to opportunity for black entrepreneurs.



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