National Negro Business League

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National Negro Business League
TypeBusiness group
Founded1900 (1900)
FounderBooker T. Washington
SuccessorNational Business League
United States
ServicesPromote the interests of Black-owned businesses

The National Negro Business League (NNBL) was an American organization founded in Boston in 1900 by Booker T. Washington to promote the interests of African-American businesses.[1][2][3] 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".[4] It grew rapidly with 320 chapters in 1905 and more than 600 chapters in 34 states in 1915.

In 1966, the League was renamed and reincorporated in Washington D.C. as the National Business League, which remains in operation.


Executive Committee of the National Negro Business League, c. 1910. NNBL founder Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) is seated, second from the left.
A meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, on August 18, 1909


The National Negro Business League (NNBL) was established in Boston, Massachusetts in 1900 by Booker T. Washington. The effort was supported by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.[citation needed]

The organization 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.[5]

The League included Negro small- business owners, doctors, farmers, other professionals, craftsmen, etc. Its goal was to allow business to put economic development at the forefront of getting African-American equality in the United States. Business was the main concern, but 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.'"[6]

After the death of Booker T. Washington in 1915, the League was headed by his successor at Tuskegee, Robert Russa Moton. 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.[7]


Affiliated professional organizations included: the National Negro Bankers Association, the National Negro Press Association, the National Association of Negro Funeral Directors, the National Negro Bar Association, the National Association of Negro Insurance Men, the National Negro Retail Merchants' Association, the National Association of Negro Real Estate Dealers, and the National Negro Finance Corporation.[7] The National Negro Bankers Association was organized at a meeting of the League in 1906 by Birmingham's William R. Pettiford.[8]

The organization inspired Robert R. Church Sr. to open Solvent Savings Bank in Memphis, Tennessee in 1906.[9] In 1927, the bank merged with Fraternal Savings Bank and Trust, which closed in 1929.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bean, Dalea (2009). "National Negro Business League". In Finkelman, Paul (ed.). Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present: from the Age of Segregation to the Twenty-first Century. Oxford University Press. p. 451. ISBN 978-0-19-516779-5. OCLC 312624445.
  2. ^ Bean, Dalea (February 9, 2009). "National Negro Business League". African American Studies Center (Report). Oxford African American Studies Center. doi:10.1093/acref/9780195301731.013.45975. ISBN 978-0-19-530173-1.
  3. ^ Regev, Ronny (2023). "The National Negro Business League and the Economic Life of Black Entrepreneurs". Past & Present. doi:10.1093/pastj/gtad005. ISSN 0031-2746.
  4. ^ "Calendar". The Independent. July 13, 1914. Retrieved August 5, 2012.
  5. ^ Verney, Kevern J. (2001). The Art of the Possible: Booker T. Washington and Black Leadership in the United States, 1881-1925. Routledge. ISBN 9780203055946.
  6. ^ "National Negro Business League". Library of Congress. Retrieved January 26, 2015.
  7. ^ a b Kenneth Hamilton (ed.), A Guide to the Records of the National Negro Business League. Bethesda, MD: University Publications of America, 1995.
  8. ^ On Lynching and Other Crime, The North Wilkesboro Hustler (North Wilkesboro, North Carolina) September 7, 1906, page 1, accessed October 12, 2016 at
  9. ^ "Church, Robert Reed, Sr. (1839–1912)". BlackPast. November 19, 2007.
  10. ^ Teresa Biddle-Douglass (March 1, 2018). "Fraternal and Solvent Savings Bank and Trust Company". Tennessee Encyclopedia. Tennessee Historical Society. Retrieved June 1, 2018.

Further reading[edit]

  • Burrows, John H. The Necessity of Myth: A History of the National Negro Business League, 1900–1945 (Auburn, AL: Hickory Hill Press, 1988).
  • Harlan, Louis R. "Booker T. Washington and the National Negro Business League" in Raymond W. Smock, ed. Booker T. Washington in Perspective: Essays of Louis R. Harlan (1988) pp. 98–109. online
  • Smith, Jessie Carney, ed. (2006). Encyclopedia of African American Business. Greenwood. pp. 593–94. ISBN 9780313331107.
  • Verney, Kevern J. The Art of the Possible: Booker T. Washington and Black Leadership in the United States, 1881-1925. New York: Routledge, 2002.

Primary sources[edit]

External links[edit]