May 18, 2011 – Reverend Leon H. Sullivan, a Baptist minister, African American civil rights leader and economic justice leader/activist joined the Board of Directors of the General Motors Corporation (GM) on March 1, 1971, and was the first African American to hold a Directors seat on a major U.S. Corporate Board.
May 21, 1971 marks the date of the first stockholder's meeting attended by Reverend Sullivan. At that meeting, he challenged GM to leave South Africa until apartheid ended. This set the stage for the integration of U.S. Corporate Boards and for the development of corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Reverend Sullivan “was best known for creating the Sullivan Principles, a set of ethical guidelines later signed by officials from more than 125 US corporations working in South Africa." The principles were one of the first benchmarks used for corporate social responsibility (CSR), and are a methodology still in use today.
His work “illustrates the most fully developed in…