ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A civil rights milestone took place January 28, 1969 with the grand opening of a company called FIGHTON.
Outside the factory on Sullivan Street in Rochester NY hundreds were on hand, including national media. FIGHTON was the nation’s first black-run Community Development Corporation.
The goal was to create jobs for unemployed black workers. At the time, unemployment in Rochester was less than 2%, but for unskilled black workers it was 25%. The opening of FIGHTON was a turning point.
A black-owned business formed in partnership with Xerox, it was the brainchild of Minister Franklin Florence.
“Our people want and they deserve results,” he said at the time. “We’re now on the road to true independence. It truly is an historical achievement.”
FIGHTON was later renamed Eltrex. By the late 1990’s it had become a conglomerate employing hundreds.
In the aftermath of the recession a decade later, its assets were sold to Canon Industries, and all of its employees transitioned to Canon. Though it’s now gone, it will forever be known for its role in the fight for racial and economic equality in the 1960’s and ’70’s.