Kenneth C. Frazier

by Vernon Jordan
Spencer Platt—Getty Images

In his essay “The Talented Tenth,” W.E.B. Du Bois wrote, “The Negro race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men.” Kenneth C. Frazier is exactly the type of exceptional African-American leader Du Bois had in mind. His grandfather was born into slavery in the 19th century; his father worked as a janitor in the 20th century; and today, Ken is among the most influential chief executives of the 21st century.

If Ken’s history mirrors that of this country, his career has advanced the march of progress. As a lawyer, he taught black law students in South Africa and freed an innocent man from death row. As a CEO, he has directed Merck to increase its investment in bold, lifesaving treatments. As a leader, he has advised—and stood up to—Presidents, most recently by condemning President Trump’s response to the events in Charlottesville. He has embraced his responsibility, followed his conscience and strengthened his country in the process.

Jordan is an attorney and a civil rights leader

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