September 13, 2010

BET founder Robert L. Johnson to give Leaders + Legends talk

Remarks titled “A Society Divided: The Growing Wealth Gap and the Role of American Business.”

Robert L. Johnson

Robert L. Johnson, founder and chairman of the RLJ Cos. and Black Entertainment Television, is the featured speaker at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School’s Leaders + Legends lecture series on Thursday, Sept. 16. The event will be held from 7:30 to 9 a.m. at the Legg Mason Tower in Harbor East.

Johnson’s remarks are titled “A Society Divided: The Growing Wealth Gap and the Role of American Business.”

Core assets of the RLJ Cos. include RLJ Development, a privately held hotel real estate investment company; RLJ Select Investments; RLJ Equity Partners, a private equity fund formed in association with the Carlyle Group, a global private equity firm; Urban Trust Bank, a federal thrift institution; Rollover Systems, a provider of outsourced retirement plan rollover services; Our Stories Films, a film production studio producing urban comedies and family dramas geared toward an African-American audience; Casino and Gaming Entertainment; and RLJ/McLarty Landers Automotive, a partnership with dealerships in the Southeast and Midwest.

Before forming the RLJ Cos., Johnson was founder and chairman of Black Entertainment Television, the nation’s first television network providing entertainment, music, news, sports and public affairs programming geared to an African-American audience. Under his leadership, BET, launched in 1980, became the first African-American-owned company publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange. In 2001, Johnson sold the cable network to Viacom for approximately $3 billion and remained chief executive officer through 2006.

In 2003, Johnson purchased the Charlotte Bobcats of the National Basketball Association, becoming the first African-American to own a major league sports franchise. In July 2007, he was chosen by USA Today as one of the 25 most influential business leaders of the past 25 years.
Johnson’s board affiliations include KB Home, Lowe’s Cos., International Management Group and Deutsche Bank Advisory Committee.

Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in social studies from the University of Illinois and a master’s degree in international affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

The Leaders + Legends monthly breakfast series, which features today’s most influential business and public policy leaders addressing topics of global interest and importance, is designed to engage business and community professionals in an examination of the most compelling issues and challenges facing society today.

Admission to the lecture, which includes breakfast, is $35. To register and for more information, go to