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While Oprah Winfrey, Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Michael Jordan, and Will Smith are among the estimated 35,000 black millionaires in the nation today, these famous celebrities were not the first blacks to reach the storied 1 percent. Between the years of 1830 and 1927, as the last generation of blacks born into slavery were reaching maturity, a small group of smart, tenacious, and daring men and women broke new ground to attain the highest levels of financial success.
Black Fortunes is an intriguing look at these remarkable individuals, including Napoleon Bonaparte Drew - author Shomari Wills' great-great-great-grandfather - the first black man in Powhatan County (contemporary Richmond) to own property in post-Civil War Virginia. His achievements were matched by five other unknown black entrepreneurs including:
Mary Ellen Pleasant, who used her Gold Rush wealth to further the cause of abolitionist John Brown
Robert Reed Church, who became the largest landowner in Tennessee
Hannah Elias, the mistress of a New York City millionaire, who used the land her lover gave her to build an empire in Harlem
Orphan and self-taught chemist Annie Turnbo-Malone, who developed the first national brand of hair care products
Madam C. J Walker, Turnbo-Malone's employee who would earn the nickname America's "first female black millionaire"
Mississippi school teacher O. W. Gurley, who developed a piece of Tulsa, Oklahoma, into a "town" for wealthy black professionals and craftsmen that would become known as "the Black Wall Street"
A fresh, little-known chapter in the nation's story - a blend of Hidden Figures, Titan, and The Tycoons - Black Fortunes illuminates the birth of the black business titan and the emergence of the black marketplace in America as never before.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Brazy Brazy on 06-25-18
I loved the stories. It had confirmed the story of Robert Church, from a previous book I read. the narrator is fitting, not over barring or dull while narrating the story. Not being bias, but as a black male I feel black history is American history.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
By Monique on 03-15-18
Great Read! True Nuggets of Black Entrepreneurship
Liked the history and multiple number of success and full entrepreneurial journeys of these Black Americans. You will be forever changed with this read.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful