Henry Green Parks, Jr. was the first African American CEO to take his company, Parks Sausages Company, public in 1970. It was listed on the NASDAQ. He was born in 1916 in Athens, GA, but his family moved to Dayton, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Ohio State University and did some graduate work in marketing. After he graduated, he worked for Pabst and became one of their leading salesmen. He left Pabst to become a partner at Graham and Associates, a New York City Public Relations firm. While working for Graham he became involved in several entrepreneurial pursuits, but left the company after he bought into a Cleveland sausage producer. His attempts to market a product with Southern flavor were rebuffed, so he studied the industry, sold his interest and started his own sausage company in 1951 with 2 employees in an abandoned dairy plant in Baltimore.
The company was known for its attention to quality control. Parks was one of the first sausage manufacturers to put production dates on his products and removed expired product from store shelves. He also insisted on federal inspection at a time when it was not required.
By 1955 the company had grown so much that it was a sponsor of the World Series that year. In 1977, the company was sold to a conglomerate, but Parks served on the board until 1980. He also served on the boards of Magnavox, Warner Lambert Company , First Penn Corporation and W. R. Grace Company. Henry Green Parks, Jr. died April 14, 1989.