Home » America’s second-richest black woman Sheila Johnson reflects on her struggles in new memoir

America’s second-richest black woman Sheila Johnson reflects on her struggles in new memoir

by Mfonobong Nsehe
Sheila Johnson

Sheila Johnson, co-founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET) and the second richest Black woman in the United States, bared her soul in a recent interview on CBS Mornings, delving into her latest work, “Walk Through Fire: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Triumph,” now available for purchase.

The book offers a nuanced look into her life, including her once-marital partnership with Robert Johnson, with whom she launched BET. In the memoir, Johnson dissects the pivotal life lessons she’s amassed over her impressive career. In 1980, she and Robert Johnson co-founded BET, only to sell it two decades later for nearly $3 billion. This monumental deal cemented Sheila Johnson as the first African-American female billionaire in the United States, though she acknowledges that her meteoric rise was not without its obstacles.

“I have been on a journey of trying to find myself, and to write this book has been therapy, and it’s really helping me to heal. I’ve been through a lot,” she said, also revealing she has post-traumatic stress (PTSD).

Johnson’s memoir also touches upon the various “acts” of her life, underscoring her resilience and versatility. Before her media enterprise days, she was a concert violinist. In fact, during the nascent stage of BET, she sold her prized violin to generate crucial funds for the network and secure office space. She also spearheaded innovative programs like Teen Summit.

“There was a lot of sacrifice and I continued to work all through that period for hours and hours teaching the violin, running back and forth performing,” she said

Presently, Johnson serves as the CEO of the prestigious Salamander Hotels & Resorts. Moreover, she holds the distinct honor of being the sole Black co-owner of three major professional sports teams in Washington, D.C.: the Wizards of the NBA, the Mystics of the WNBA, and the Capitals of the NHL.

Sheila Johnson is the second richest black woman in the United States after Oprah Winfrey.

According to Forbes, she has a net worth pegged at $840 million.

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