Richard “Rich” E. Black is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Florida’s only African-American lifestyle publication with a statewide focus, ONYX Magazine. He served as the first director of Diversity of Rosen Hotels and was an adviser to billionaire Harris Rosen, the president of Florida’s largest independent hotel chain, Rosen Hotels and Resorts. He also played a pivotal role in the creation of the ONYX Awards, Florida’s largest award show that celebrates the accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans and those of the African diaspora.
Black initiated the plan to create the Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Monument and Centennial Gardens, which was unveiled on the campus of Bethune-Cookman University during its Centennial Celebration in 2004. With a keen ability to sell and market, Black brought together and engaged in the project such luminaries as Dr. Dorothy Height, the President Emeritus of the National Council of Negro Women; author and philanthropist Lucille O’Neal; Los Angeles Lakers’ Shaquille O’Neal; the Honorable Kweisi Mfume; the Honorable Baron H. “Bud “ Asher; the Honorable Frederica Wilson; Harris Rosen, the president of Rosen Hotels; Dr. Norma White, past Supreme Basilius of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Dr. Gwendolyn Boyd, past National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; and the Honorable Buddy Dyer, to name a few. The project raised more than $800,000 in one year.
Black’s commitment to sharing and preserving the history of African-Americans and bridging racial divides can be viewed in his leadership surrounding an important project. The Central Florida community was dismayed when it discovered that the region’s largest historical museum, the Orange County Regional History Museum, omitted an African-American exhibit of the museum during its opening ceremonies. Project organizers said the African-American exhibit was excluded because they could not secure the history from the community. Black met with the Museum and a $100,000 budget was established to fund the exhibit. He spearheaded a committee of community leaders and historians to secure artifacts and historical information to be included in the exhibit titled “How Distant Seem Our Starting Place,” inspired by a poem written by James Weldon Johnson.
Black also served as the business manager for the Original Florida Hall of Fame Highwaymen, a group of very talented African-American artists from Fort Pierce, Fla., who rose above segregation and the Jim Crow laws of the South to national prominence as artists. They were inducted into The Florida Hall of Fame in 2004, and currently a movie is in the making about their life and struggles. Their art, which includes the trademark Poinciana tree, can now be viewed in Florida’s State Capitol, the White House and beyond.
Black holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bethune-Cookman University. He is a life member of the Bethune-Cookman Alumni Association, Inc., and a Life Member of the NAACP. He lives in Orlando.