Arkansas Business' 25 Minority Trailblazers (25th Anniversary)

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Mar. 23, 2009 12:00 am  

Charles Stewart, executive vice president at Regions Bank

12. Ernest P. Joshua Sr.
When Ernest P. Joshua Sr. founded J.M. Products Inc. of Little Rock in the mid-1970s, little did he know that what started as a one-man enterprise would grow into one of the largest manufacturers of ethnic hair care products in the United States.

J.M., which manufactures products such as Isoplus, has two manufacturing facilities in Arkansas – Little Rock and North Little Rock – and joint operations in Jamaica and South Africa.

In 1987, President Ronald Reagan honored Joshua at the White House for his accomplishments as a small businessman. In 1994, President Bill Clinton invited Joshua on the first ever U.S. trade mission to South Africa.

Joshua died in September 2005 at Baptist Hospital in Little Rock.

13. Joseph Daniel McQuany
In 1962, Joseph Daniel McQuany decided to get clean. But defeating alcoholism is a daily struggle, one that requires the support of a group of friends who've been there and done that.

Unfortunately for McQuany, some Alcoholics Anonymous groups in the 1960s weren't able to accept the presence of a black man. The tenacious McQuany did not resign himself to the divisions of prejudice. He started his own groups, welcoming any and all who wanted a sober life. And what began as a small gathering place of hope was transformed into an institution that offers hope to struggling addicts 24/7.

Serenity Park in Little Rock has treated more than 30,000 recovering alcoholics and drug addicts since it opened in 1972.

McQuany, who helped the addicted rich and powerful just as he helped the addicted poor and obscure, left a lasting legacy.

Before his death in 2007, McQuany, more commonly known as just Joe, published several books that leave behind a roadmap for any addict who seeks a better life.

14. Mahlon Martin
Mahlon Martin once said that if there was anything he had learned in life, it was to treat others as he wished to be treated for "I'm no better or worse than anybody else."

Martin walked his talk. "He was just one of the nicest, kindest people you will ever know. He had a huge reservoir of patience," Richard Weiss, director of the state Department of Finance & Administration, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette when Martin died in 1995. Martin had hired Weiss as budget director when Martin was the DF&A chief.

Martin became the first black Little Rock city manager in 1980. Several years later, Gov. Bill Clinton appointed Martin to head the DF&A, making him the first African-American to fill that role as well.



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