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Leon Howard Sullivan

Sullivan, Leon Howard (1922– ), Baptist minister whose numerous projects have improved economic opportunities for African Americans. Acting on his belief that unemployment was a major reason for crime, he initiated a 1959 boycott of Philadelphia firms that did not hire African Americans. After 3 years, these companies made jobs available to African Americans. In 1964 Sullivan founded a center (Opportunities Industrialization Center) in Philadelphia at which members of minority groups could receive job training. The center was so successful that others were opened throughout the United States as well as in Africa. The following year Sullivan founded a corporation (Zion Investment Associates) that established several diverse African-American businesses. In 1971 Sullivan became a member of the board of directors of General Motors, the first African American ever to do so. In 1977 he initiated a plan for equal treatment of black Africans in South Africa. His Sullivan Principles urged firms there to ban segregation, provide greater opportunities for blacks, and pay blacks and whites equally for equal work. Although many U.S. companies operating in South Africa agreed to the principles, discrimination continued, causing Sullivan to conclude that U.S. firms should not remain in South Africa.

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