Jul 20th, 2020
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."
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