Reginald F. Lewis Foundation hosts essay-writing contest for Baltimore City Public School students

By Megan Sayles, AFRO Business Writer,
Report for America Corps Member,

The Reginald F. Lewis Foundation is currently calling for submissions to its student writing contest. 

Baltimore City Public School (City School) students are encouraged to read or listen to Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun? by Reginald F. Lewis and Blair S. Walker and write a 500- to 800-word essay detailing their thoughts and reactions to the biography. 

The deadline for submissions closes Nov. 1, and three winners, as well as seven honorable mentions, will be announced on Nov. 20 in the AFRO

“So many men and women were inspired after reading the book to go for their highest dreams with everything,” said Loida Lewis, chairwoman of the Reginald F. Lewis Foundation and wife of the late Reginald F. Lewis. “The young people really don’t know anything about him, so I want them to read and write about him and how he inspires their life.” 

The foundation, named after the million-dollar business mogul and Baltimore native Reginald F. Lewis, was established in 1987 to support grantees focused on social justice, empowerment through education, the arts and promoting cultural diversity. 

Loida Lewis said her husband believed education to be the key to escaping poverty. 

Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun?” derives its title from the same question that six-year-old Lewis asked his grandparents after hearing them discuss employment discrimination against African Americans. 

The book, which is based on his unfinished autobiography, accounts Lewis’ journey to becoming the CEO of TLC Beatrice International, a major international food processing company that was once known as the largest Black-owned business. 

Several years after taking over, Lewis brought company sales to over $1.8 billion yearly, making TLC Beatrice International the first Black-owned business to generate a billion dollars in annual sales.  

In part, the essay-writing contest was created to commemorate the legacy and impact of Lewis, who would have turned 80 this December. The foundation chose to partner with the AFRO for the contest because at 10 years old, Lewis worked as a paperboy for the Baltimore publication, growing his customer base from 10 to over 100 in two years. 

The Reginald F. Lewis Foundation celebrates the 35th year since its founding in 1987. The Foundation has donated $35 million to charities founded by Blacks or scholarship for people of color.

“Reginald Lewis was an entrepreneur extraordinaire, a champion for social justice and a role model to many, especially young people,” said Frances ‘Toni’ Draper, publisher of the AFRO. “His legacy lives on through efforts such as this essay contest for Baltimore City Public High School students. The AFRO is honored to work with Mrs. Loida Lewis and the Reginald F. Lewis Foundation.” 

Beverly Cooper, vice president of the Reginald F. Lewis Foundation, said students can borrow “Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun?” at no cost at all branches of the Enoch Pratt Free Library. 

The competition’s top prizes are $3,000 for first place, $2,000 for second place and $1,000 for third place. Each of the winners’ schools will receive $1,000. The seven students who are given honorable mentions will be awarded $500 each.

Participants can send their essays to ReginaldFLewisEssayContest@gmail.com.

According to Loida Lewis, young people can learn what it takes to achieve their goals through reading the book. They can also understand the importance of setting goals, hard work, determination and integrity. 

“I want them to be ambitious, to dream, to think, but that is no good unless they’re willing to work hard every day,” she said.

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