25 years of blacks in the entertainment industry.

Author:Edmond, Alfred, Jr.
Position:Cover Story

In 1970, Berry Gordy Jr. owned the nation's largest blackowned business, Motown Industries, purveyors of the Motown Sound, "the sound of young America." At that time, the 8-track cassette was the latest innovation in recorded music. On the tube, there were perhaps seven channels at most, while the only way to see a new film release was to trek to the neighborhood movie house. And black creativity was the dominant influence in entertainment. Flash forward to 1994. The largest black business in the entertainment industry is a publicly traded multimedia company called BET Holdings Inc., purveyors of Video Soul and BET On Jazz, and the owner of two magazines and a home shopping show, among other ventures. Vinyl records are collectors, items, and CDs reign. There are at least 70 channels on the television set, with another 400 or so due any day now. You can go to the movie theater now, or wait until the film comes to the small screen at home, whether in the form of laser disk, video cassette or home cable. And African-American creativity is the dominant influence in entertainment.

The more things change, the more things stay the same. While African-Americans have had to battle tooth and nail for their share of a multibillion dollar industry, black-owned businesses have made an indelible mark on how we entertain ourselves.

The most prominent entrepreneurial successes, though limited in proportion to the rest of the industry, have come in the music business. Led by Motown, companies such...

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