The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Ernesta G. Procope

Share on Social Media

Information about Ernesta G. Procope

Profile image of Ernesta G. Procope

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
Occupation(s):
Insurance Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Beige
Favorite Food:
Cake (Pound)
Favorite Time of Year:
Christmas
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Barbados, Sarasota, Florida
Favorite Quote:
We're Not Selling Potatoes Or Onions. We're Selling Service.

Birthplace

Born:
?
Birth Location:
New York, New York

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
Occupation(s):
Insurance Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Beige
Favorite Food:
Cake (Pound)
Favorite Time of Year:
Christmas
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Barbados, Sarasota, Florida
Favorite Quote:
We're Not Selling Potatoes Or Onions. We're Selling Service.

Birthplace

Born:
?
Birth Location:
New York
See how Ernesta G. Procope is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Ernesta G. Procope was born in Brooklyn, New York. During her early childhood, Procope studied piano and at age 13 appeared at Carnegie Hall showing early promise as a piano prodigy. By the time she had graduated high school in the 1940s, Procope’s interests had shifted from music to real estate and insurance. In 1953, she founded E.G. Bowman, a private insurance company that offered insurance to the residents of the predominantly African American Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, New York.

Serving as president and chief executive officer, Procope made history in 1979 when she relocated her business from its Brooklyn storefront to 97 Wall Street. The E.G. Bowman Company became the first African American-owned business to be located on Wall Street. Procope became the broker of record for the New York City Housing Authority and the insurance broker for the construction of the United States’ portion of the Alaska Pipeline. Licensed in all 50 states, the company counts IBM, Avon Products, Philip Morris Companies, General Motors and Time Warner among its clients. Procope is also the founder and president of Bowman Specialty Services, LLP. This extension of her business provides engineering and safety services.

In 1972, Procope was honored in a White House ceremony where she received the Woman of the Year award from First Lady Patricia Nixon. She was appointed by President Gerald Ford as a Special Ambassador to Gambia and has served on many corporate and community non-profit boards, including The Chubb Corporation, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the New York Urban League. In addition, she has been a Trustee for Cornell and Adelphi Universities and served as Chairperson of the Adelphi Board of Trustees.

Procope holds Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from Howard University, Adelphi University and Marymount Manhattan College, as well as a Doctor of Humane Letters from Morgan State University. She has received numerous awards. In 1993, Ernst & Young named her Entrepreneur of the Year. In 2003, Ms. Procope was inducted into the African American Hall of Fame and in 2006, she was named to the Minority Business Hall of Fame and Museum.

Procope’s husband of 40 years, John Procope, is former advertising executive and publisher of the New York Amsterdam News, and a trustee of Howard University.

The Procopes reside in New York City.

See how Ernesta G. Procope is related to other HistoryMakers
Loading...
Click Here To Explore The Archive Today!
  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ernesta G. Procope's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ernesta G. Procope lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ernesta G. Procope describes her mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ernesta G. Procope describes her father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ernesta G. Procope recalls her childhood in Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, New York
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ernesta G. Procope describes her interest in music
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ernesta G. Procope recalls her family's Christmas traditions
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ernesta G. Procope describes her childhood household
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ernesta G. Procope recalls the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Ernesta G. Procope describes her mother's community activism
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Ernesta G. Procope recalls her church and her mother's wisdom
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Ernesta G. Procope remembers studying piano at the New York School of Music
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Ernesta G. Procope describes her school years
  • Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Ernesta G. Procope recalls meeting her husband at Brooklyn College
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ernesta G. Procope recalls her first date with her husband, John Procope
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ernesta G. Procope remembers beginning as an insurance broker
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ernesta G. Procope remembers redlining in the insurance industry
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ernesta G. Procope describes the creation of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ernesta G. Procope recalls her responsibility to hire African Americans
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ernesta G. Procope recalls operating her company in Bedford-Stuyvesant
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ernesta G. Procope recalls moving her business to Wall Street
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ernesta G. Procope describes the continuing importance of affirmative action
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Ernesta G. Procope describes her husband's work at the Amsterdam News
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Ernesta G. Procope talks about the insurance industry and its history
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Ernesta G. Procope describes her parents' reaction to her work
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ernesta G. Procope talks about African American companies on Wall Street
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ernesta G. Procope reflects upon the importance of history
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ernesta G. Procope describes her hopes for Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ernesta G. Procope describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ernesta G. Procope describes how she would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ernesta G. Procope reflects upon her career and accomplishments
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ernesta G. Procope reflects upon the importance of education
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Ernesta G. Procope narrates her photographs