Summary of The Billion Dollar BET

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The Billion Dollar BET book summary


8 Overall

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The fascinating rags-to-riches story of Robert L. Johnson, the U.S.’s first black billionaire, has all the makings of a great novel: personality, determination, opportunity, scandal, backstabbing and tremendous success. Against all odds, this child of a poor, black rural family became a media pioneer and a very wealthy man. A visionary, he started Black Entertainment Television (BET) with $15,000, four employees, and incredible energy and ambition. Judging by the amount of money he made, his success is clear, although biographer Brett Pulley says his track record in social responsibility is muddier. recommends Pulley’s remarkably even-handed, in-depth portrayal of this enigmatic, controversial, often hard-hearted mogul.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How Robert Johnson, one of today’s most successful black entrepreneurs, founded his media empire;
  • How Johnson nurtured Black Entertainment Television (BET) despite problems and criticism; and
  • Who he helped and hurt.

About the Author

Brett Pulley covers media and entertainment as a senior editor at Forbes magazine. He spent five years at The New York Times covering economic development and politics, and was a contributing correspondent at The Wall Street Journal. He won two National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) awards.



Modest Beginnings
Robert "Bobby" Louis Johnson was born to Archie and Edna Johnson of Hickory, Mississippi, on April 8, 1946. Archie made ends meet by chopping and selling wood, while Edna taught in an all-black school. In the early 1960s, Archie moved his large family to Freeport...

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