National Negro Business League With 2.5 MM Negro Businesses Nationwide

National Business League With 2.5 MM Businesses Nationwide

The National Business League (NBL) is an American organization founded in Boston in 1900 by Booker T. Washington to promote the interests of African-American businesses. The mission and main goal of the National Negro Business League was “to promote the commercial and financial development of the Negro.” It was recognized as “composed of negro men and women who have achieved success along business lines”. It grew rapidly to 320 chapters in 1905 and more than 600 chapters in 34 states by 1915. In 1966, the League was renamed and reincorporated in Washington D.C. as the National Business League. It remains in operation.

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The National Negro Business League (NNBL) was well respected in the U.S. business community. The effort was supported by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. The NNBL was formally incorporated in 1901 in New York, and established 320 chapters across the United States. In May 1913, a respected Black journalist, Ralph Waldo Tyler was elected as the first National Organizer of the NNBL. Tyler’s role was to travel throughout the Southern United States and document the state of negro businesses and encourage enrollment in the NNBL.

The League included Negro small- business owners, doctors, farmers, other professionals, craftsmen, etc. Its goal was to allow black businesses to put economic development at the forefront of getting African-American equality in the United States. Business was the main concern, and civil rights came next. In 1905 the Nashville, Tennessee, chapter protested segregation in local transit with a boycott.

Booker T. Washington felt that there was a need for African Americans to build an economic network and allow that to be a catalyst for change and social improvement. Also, extant press releases indicate that “the League organized the National Negro Business Service to ‘help. the Negro business men of the country solve their merchandising and advertising problems,’ promoted advertising in Negro newspapers and magazines, and ‘influenced . . . national advertisers to use Negro publications in reaching this importantly valuable group of people with its tremendous purchasing power.'”

After the death of Booker T. Washington in 1915, the League was headed by his successor at Tuskegee, Robert RussaMoton. Albon L. Holsey, an executive at Tuskegee, was executive secretary of the League. Other leaders in 1922-23 were John L. Webb, treasurer (succeeding Charles H. Anderson), and Charles Clinton Spaulding, head of the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Co. in Durham, North Carolina.

National Business League Executive Committee in 1900 with Founder Booker T. Washington

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Dr. Kenneth L. Harris, Ph.D. President/CEO National Business League

Detroit, Michigan

Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Dr. Kenneth L. Harris is known for addressing societal and economic challenges within the urban community. Dr. Harris serves as the 12th President and CEO of the National Business League, Inc., founded by Dr. Booker T. Washington in 1900. Today the NBL has access to 2.9 million black-owned businesses in the United States.

Dr.Harris received the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) 2007 Minority Business Advocate of the Year award, Crain’s Detroit Business’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2007 and the Who’s Who in Black Detroit’s Most Influential. Dr. Harris was honored by the Michigan Women’s Marketplace and CEED as the 2008 Entrepreneur of the Year and received the 2008 Excellence Award for Economic Empowerment by 100 Black Men of Greater Detroit, Inc.

Dr. Harris also accepted the 2009 CBS-WWJ 950 Emerging Leader Under 40 Award for Black History Month, and the 2010 Michigan Front Page’s 30 in Their 30s award. Dr. Harris was chosen DBusiness Magazine’s(Detroit Business Magazine) 30 in Their 30s Most Influential and featured in Ebony Magazine in 2011. Dr. Harris was featured in the 2012 Aetna African American Black History Calendar America’s Most Influential and received the 2012 Men of Excellence Award from the Michigan Chronicle Newspaper.

Additionally, he has been named by the 2013 New York-based Counselors International as one of the “40 Under 40” top economic development professionals in the United States. Dr. Harris was featured in the 2014 CBS TV 62 and WWJ 950 Black History Month Distinguished Leader Showcase. Dr. Harris received the 2015 Comerica Bank Community Partnership Award, 2017 National Veterans Supplier Diversity Council Leadership Award and 2018 DBusiness Magazines (Detroit Business Magazine) Most Influential Business Executives in Metro-Detroit.

Dr. Harris received his Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) with a combined specialization in Entrepreneurship, Economics, African American and African Studies from the Michigan State University. source:(

The Acquisition and Merger of the NBL by the Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce, Inc.

On June 19th, 2017, the Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce, Inc., the nation’s largest African American chamber in the country, acquired and merged the National Business League (NBL), Inc., an organization founded by Booker T. Washington in 1900. Immediately following the acquisition and merger of the 117-year-old organization, the newly formed NBL Board of Directors relocated the headquarters from Washington, D.C., where they had been since 1966, to Detroit, Michigan, a city with more than 47,000 Black-owned businesses and the home of General Motors, FIAT Chrysler, Ford Motor Company and Toyota, just to name a few, with regional offices now in Atlanta, GA, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, CA. The NBL now comprises 365 leagues (chapters) across the country,creating a national platform with access to 2.5 million Black businesses in the United States.

The National Black League (NBL) is a not-for-profit 501-C(6) tax-exempt, nonpartisan and nonsectarian commerce-driven enterprise dedicated to the economic empowerment of Black businesses, communities and people. The NBL engages and advocates on behalf of Black-owned firms throughout the country and the Pan-African Diaspora.

The NBL carries out its mission, purpose and motto through its Seven Pyramids to Prosperity:

  • Advocacy
  • Capacity Building and Technical Assistance
  • Access
  • Practicing Cooperative Economics
  • Resource Deployment
  • Supplier Certification and Development
  • Talent Placement and Acquisition.

The National Business League (NBL) is the United States ‘first and oldest’Business Organization, having been created 12 years before the US Chamber of Commerce was founded.