Lillian Lincoln Lambert is known as the first Black woman to graduate from Harvard Business School. Born in Ballsville, Virginia she moved to New York after high school. The only work she could find was as a maid so she moved to Washington, D.C and worked in typing pools for the government and went to teachers college. When she was 22 she went to Howard University. There she met H. Naylor Fitzhugh who was one of the first Blacks to go to HBS and he became her mentor and eventually he convinced her to apply.
When she arrived at the school she realized that she was the only Black woman there. In her class of 1,600 only 1 of 9 were Black and 35 of them were women. “In hindsight, it was best that I did not know. Had I known, I’m not sure I would have gone. It was a tumultuous time for the country. This was the era of the civil rights and women's rights movements. Martin Luther King would be assassinated the following spring.”They started a African-American Student Union to get the number of Blacks attending to increase. They increased the number within two years. Before she graduated she had not been interviewed for any jobs. She went back to her previous job and eventually became executive vice president of Unified Services. In 1976 she started her own company, Centennial One. What began with 20 part-time employees and an office that was formally her garage became one with 1,200 employees and made $20 million. By 1995 she was the first woman to serve the president of an international association of service contractors.
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