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We look forward to serving alongside Mr. Bridgeman as we continue to ignite the societal potential of all Coke Scholars and cultivate this special network of leaders who create positive change in their communities and beyond.” said Kirk Tyler, CCSF Board Chair and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Atlantic Bottling Company.

Ulysses L. “Junior” Bridgeman, Jr., is the owner and chief executive officer of Heartland Coca-Cola Bottling Company, LLC, a Kansas limited liability company which owns and operates a Coca-Cola production/manufacturing facility in Lenexa, Kansas, and 17 Coca-Cola distribution facilities sprinkled across the USA’s heartland, including Kansas, Missouri and Illinois.

Mr. Bridgeman is also part owner of Coca-Cola Canada Bottling Limited with Larry Tanenbaum, a prominent Canadian businessman and philanthropist. Coca-Cola Canada Bottling Limited employs approximately 5,800 associates and operates five production facilities and over 50 sales and distribution centers. Coca-Cola Canada Bottling Limited conducts business in all 10 Canadian provinces and three territories.

Mr. Bridgeman acquired the Heartland manufacturing and bottling territories from Coca-Cola Refreshments USA, LLC in late February 2017. The Coca-Cola Canada Bottling Limited acquisition was completed in October 2018, and both transactions made Mr. Bridgeman one of the Coca-Cola system’s newest independent bottlers.

Prior to acquisition of the Heartland and Canadian bottling operations, Mr. Bridgeman was the owner and chief executive officer of various companies operating over 450 restaurants in 20 states, including 263 Wendy’s restaurants and 123 Chili’s restaurants. He has over 11,000 employees and revenues in excess of $500 million. He is ranked #3 on the Restaurant Finance Monitor’s Top 200 franchisee-owned companies. His companies received several prestigious awards during his tenure including the Diamond Award (most effective neighborhood marketer), the Wendy Award (exemplary performance by a franchisee), the Founder’s Award (recognizing operational excellence by a franchisee), the Jim Near Legacy Award (for employer of choice) and the Hall of Fame Award (for overall achievement) from Wendy’s International, and the Franchisee of the Year Award (2012) and the Chili’s Sales Award (2015) from Brinker International.

Born in East Chicago, Indiana, Bridgeman was a member of the 1971 Washington High School Senators basketball team, which went undefeated (29-0) and won the Indiana state high school basketball championship. Among his teammates were his brother Sam, Pete Trgovich (who played at UCLA) and Tim Stoddard (N.C. State), who would go on to have success as a Major League Baseball pitcher.

Mr. Bridgeman attended the University of Louisville where he graduated in 1975 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. He was a three-year letter winner and starter on the University’s basketball team, receiving All American honors as a senior
From 1975 to 1983 and from 1986 to 1987, Mr. Bridgeman played professional basketball with the Milwaukee Bucks. During the interim period of 1983 to 1986, he played for the Los Angeles Clippers.

Mr. Bridgeman currently serves on the Board of Directors of Meijer, Inc., Churchill Downs, the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, the James Graham Brown Foundation, Simmons College, and the West End School. He served as past chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of Louisville.

Mr. Bridgeman has personally received many awards, including the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame; Volunteers of America Tribute Award for Outstanding Service to the Commonwealth of Kentucky; John Thompson Foundation Outstanding Achievement Award; Coach John Wooden Key to Life Award and the Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame.


New Owner Of Ebony Magazine Pivots To Generational Wealth Building, Small Business Content

Ebony Magazine
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New Owner Of Ebony Magazine Pivots To Generational Wealth Building, Small Business Content. Photo Courtesy of Ebony Magazine.

The new owner of Ebony Magazine and his team have pivoted the historical publication’s focus to wealth building and small business content aimed at equipping the Black community to be successful.

After years of financial challenges and several changes in leadership and ownership as a result of print publications being decimated by digital media, Ebony and its sister magazine Jet were purchased by former NBA player and entrepreneur Ulysses “Junior” Bridgeman in Dec. 2020.

Shortly thereafter, Bridgeman named Michelle Ghee as CEO of Ebony and Jet. Ghee has decades of experience in a variety of roles ranging from account executive to senior vice-president at networks including BET, CNN and The Weather Channel.

Ghee explained the content shift in a recent interview with NPR. “African Americans are not getting compensated, they’re not getting honored, they’re not getting hired at the rate at which they’re contributing to the American fabric,” Ghee said.

“We have to begin to educate, but also give people tools so that they can too begin to build their businesses,” Ghee continued. “I’m flying from place to place literally meeting small business owners asking: How can we help you, how can we support?”

Using the theme, “Move Black Forward,” Ebony’s new direction is in tandem with Bridgeman’s own life story as a successful Black athlete-turned-business owner. In 1987, after retiring from the NBA, Bridgeman became a fast food restaurant franchisee, according to the Chicago Business Journal. In 2017, he sold his restaurants and launched the Kansas-based Heartland Coca-Cola Bottling Co.

Bridgeman recalled how Ebony depicted Black excellence in Wall Street Journal interview. He said he understood the way the world consumes news has changed, but thinks there is no reason why Ebony can’t be held in the same esteem it once was. He said that while there could be an occasional print issue, it would still be largely digital.

The publication will still include celebrity and entertainment stories, but it’s going to double-down on generation wealth-building, financial literacy and small business content, NPR reported.

It is a move that will help boost success in the Black community, according to Andre Perry, who studies wealth and Black businesses at the Brookings Institution.

“Our elders used to say ‘Our ice is just as cold 9as that of white people.’ They knew that our services, our goods are just as good. And so if we can remove those negative stereotypes, we can really eat at the wealth divide that currently exists,” Perry said.



Oscar Robertson (1970-71 through 1973-74)

Number retired on Oct. 18, 1974

On April 21, 1970, the Bucks traded for Oscar Robertson, an All-Star in each of his 10 seasons in Cincinnati. Robertson joined Kareem Abdul- Jabbar to form one of the most formidable inside-outside duos in NBA history. The Bucks won 66 games, advanced to the Finals against Baltimore and “The Big O” had the championship that eluded him in Cincinnati. Robertson averaged 18.3 points per game in Milwaukee’s 12-2 postseason.

Robertson played three more seasons with the Bucks, and the team never won fewer than 59 games. In the last of his 14 NBA seasons, Oscar again led the Bucks to the Finals. Robertson retired after having led Milwaukee to a 248-80 record in four seasons. Robertson, the only Buck to wear the #1, had his jersey retired on Oct. 18, 1974.


Junior Bridgeman (1975-76 through 1983-84, 1986-87)

Number retired on Jan. 17 1988

Junior Bridgeman made his mark in Milwaukee as the Bucks “Super Sub.” He started only 105 of the 711 games he played in a Bucks uniform, but Bridgeman scored in double figures for eight straight seasons, consistently among the league’s highest scoring non-starters.

He was the league’s top scoring sixth man in 1978-79, averaging 15.5 points per game. J.B. averaged 17.6 points in the 1979-80 season and 16.8 points per game the following year as the Bucks reached the 60-win plateau for the fourth time. In nine seasons, he hit double figures eight times. Bridgeman has played more games than any player in Bucks history (711) and is among the Bucks all-time leaders in points (7th, 9,892), minutes (8th, 18,044), steals (T-9th, 607), field goals made (5th, 4,142) and attempted (5th, 8,658). His #2 was retired on Jan. 17, 1988.



Sidney Moncrief (1979-80 through 1988-89)

Number retired on Jan. 6 1990

During the ’80s, the most prolific decade in Bucks history, Sidney Moncrief was front man for a team that won 50 games for seven consecutive seasons and appeared in the playoffs in each of his 10 seasons (1979-89).

A five-time All-Star, Moncrief compiled 16.7 points per game in 10 seasons in Milwaukee. He also averaged 5.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.26 steals and finished with a career shooting percentage of better than 50 percent. But as proficient as Moncrief was at the offensive end, surely he was better known for his relentless defense. Moncrief earned four straight berths on the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team (1982-86) and was the first recipient of the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year honor in 1983. His #4 was raised to the rafters on Jan. 6, 1990, at the Bradley Center. To this day, only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Glenn Robinson have scored more points in a Milwaukee uniform than Sir Sid (11,594).


Marques Johnson

Number retired on Mar. 24 2019

Marques Johnson was a revolutionary player in one of the most dominating eras of Bucks basketball. Johnson, a four-time All-Star and three-time All-NBA honoree with the Bucks, led Milwaukee to a 347-227 (.605) regular season record and playoff appearances in six of his seven seasons with the team. This included five straight playoff appearances from 1980-84, two Eastern Conference Finals berths in 1983 and 1984 and four consecutive 50-win seasons from 1980-84.

Johnson averaged 21.0 points (fourth-highest in team history), 7.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game and shot 53.0 percent from the field (fourth-highest in team history) in his time with the Bucks. He ranks among the franchise’s all-time leaders in nearly every statistical category including being sixth in points (10,980), fourth in field goals made (4,546), third in rebounds (3,923), first in offensive rebounds (1,468) and ninth in games played (524). He averaged more than 20.0 points in five seasons and was named to the 1977-78 All-NBA Rookie Team after averaging 19.5 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. Johnson was also a First Team All-NBA pick for the 1978-79 season and a Second Team All-NBA selection after the 1979-80 and 1980-81 seasons.

Originally selected by the Bucks with the third overall pick in the 1977 NBA Draft out of UCLA, Johnson won the 1975 NCAA Championship with the Bruins under legendary head coach John Wooden. He was also named the Associated Press and Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year, and won the first-ever John R. Wooden Award following his senior season in 1976-77 in which he averaged 21.4 points and 11.1 rebounds per game. UCLA retired Johnson’s No. 54 in 1996.


Bob Dandridge (1969-70 through 1976-77, 1987-82)

Number retired on Mar. 7 2015

A member of the Bucks’ 1971 Championship team and three-time All-Star in Milwaukee, Bob “The Greyhound” Dandridge will go down among the greatest players to ever don a Bucks uniform, boasting career averages of 18.6 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists in nine seasons with the team.

Dandridge was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 1970, and NBA All-Defensive First Team and All-NBA Second Team in 1979, and ranks among the top-10 in 10 major offensive categories in Milwaukee’s franchise history, including minutes (1st, 22,094), points (5th, 11,478), rebounds (2nd, 4,497), assists (8th, 1,956), scoring average (10th, 18.6 ppg), games played (3rd, 618), field goals made (2nd, 4,826), field goals attempted (3rd, 9,901) and free throws made (6th, 1,826). After winning his first championship as a Buck, Dandridge went on to win a second as a member of the Washington Bullets in 1978, and was elected to a total of four All-Star Games in his career. His #10 was retired on March 7, 2015.


Bob Lanier (1979-80 through 1983-84)

Number retired on Dec. 4 1984

Bob Lanier was an NBA legend before he put on a Bucks uniform, but five seasons with the Bucks – and five division championships – cemented his place as one of the best players in NBA history. Arriving from Detroit, Lanier provided veteran leadership to a team that averaged 53 wins during his four-plus seasons. Lanier was a leader off the court as well, serving as the president of the NBA Players Association during the end of his playing days.

Despite his brief tenure, Lanier is ninth on the Bucks postseason scoring list (680 points), tied for sixth in rebounding (342) and tied for third in blocked shots (45). His playoff scoring average of 15.1 is 12th. Counting his five seasons in Milwaukee, Lanier amassed 19,248 points in 14 years, finishing his career with averages of 20.1 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. He was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 1991. Seven years earlier, on Dec. 4, 1984, his #16 was hung at the MECCA.


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1969-70 through 1974-75)

Number retired on April 24, 1993

Abdul-Jabbar (and his patented ‘sky-hook’) brought instant success to the Bucks. He earned Rookie of the Year honors in 1969-70, and the Bucks won 56 games. For an encore, Abdul-Jabbar led the Bucks to 66 wins and won the first of three MVP awards with the Bucks in 1970-71, averaging 31.7 ppg and 16.0 rpg. In the playoffs, he helped lead the Bucks to a 12-2 record and a World Championship.

After six seasons in Milwaukee, Abdul-Jabbar was (and still is) the leading scorer (14,211) and rebounder (7,161) in team history, and also tops the all-time list in scoring average (30.4 ppg), field goals made (5,902), attempted (10,787) and field goal percentage (.547). His 495 blocks rank fifth on the all-time list, even though the statistic was only kept during his final two seasons with the Bucks.

Abdul-Jabbar, a New York native, eventually longed for a return to big city life and was granted a trade to the Los Angeles Lakers, where he played 14 more seasons before retiring as the leading scorer in NBA history (38,387). He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1995, and had his number 33 – which was never worn by another Bucks player – retired in a ceremony at the Bradley Center on April 24, 1993.

*During the Bucks 40th Anniversary season, the team re-dedicated the seven retired numbers at ceremonies throughout the 2007-08 season at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.*