Abstract: Black Americans in White Collars: Instigating Change in Corporate America in the 1960s and 1970s

Will Cooley


In the 1960s and 1970s African Americans advanced into the formerly white enclave of private-sector white-collar work. This paper details the experiences of these "Jackie Robinson" figures as they entered middle-class workplaces and forced often-reluctant white co-workers and supervisors to accept them. It explains how blacks coped with new forms of subtle discrimination, the mores of the "shadow corporation," and occasional episodes of blatant racism. Through all of this, educated African Americans persevered knowing that success in the salaried ranks was the only way they could achieve the American Dream long promised to them.