Joseph L. Searles III, the first Black man to work at the New York Stock Exchange as a floor broker, has died at the age of 79. Searles passed away on July 26.
The financial genius was born on January 2, 1942, in Asheville, N.C. He was raised in Ft. Hood, Texas before going on to play football for Kansas State University. He graduated with a degree in political science before attending George Washington University Law School and playing professional football for the New York Giants.
In 1967, he left the New York Giants to work as an aide to Mayor John Lindsay of New York, where he became the mayor’s protégé. According to the Wall Street Journal, he became the first Black person to work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in 1970 as a stock broker for Newburger, Loeb & Company.
Searles became the vice president of what is now known as J.P Morgan Chase in 1984 and was a leader in establishing minority-owned businesses throughout New York. In 1969, he held New York’s first minority franchising fair. Searles also served as Director and Chairman of the State of New York Mortgage Agency, as well as the Deputy Commissioner of the New York City Economic Development Administration.
Searles served as a member of New York’s Urban League Board of Directors and Treasurers, and was also president of the New York and New Jersey Chapter of the National Football League Players Association for retired players. The leader discussed diversity at the NYSE for the Wall Street Journal in 2014.
“I wanted to represent myself and my people, but also my clients and my firm,” he said. He also noted that he wasn’t the first Black member of the NYSE, adding that members of color before him were either not publicly acknowledged or passed for white.
Mr. Searles is survived by three children and two grandchildren.