What gains did the African American middle class attain during the 1980s?

African Americans held professional and managerial positions that would have been denied them in the past.

Among the many blacks who held executive positions in corporate America in the 1990s were Richard Parsons, president of Time Warner; Ken Chenault, vice chairman of American Express; and Dennis Hightower, head of Disney’s television and telecommunications department.

The number of black-owned businesses increased from 308,260 in 1982 to 424,165 in 1987, and continues to grow.

Blacks continued to take advantage of educational opportunities.

In 1960, there were 141,000 blacks enrolled in college. In 1988, there were 785,000.
According to the United States Census, 38.2 percent of black workers held white-collar positions in 1980, while 48 percent held white-collar positions in 1995.

Thurgood Marshall, the son of a porter and the great-grandson of a slave, became the first black Supreme Court Justice in 1967.