Black Fortunes: the Story of the First Six African Americans Who Escaped Slavery and Became Million

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The astonishing untold history of America’s first black millionaires— self-made entrepreneurs who endured incredible challenges to amass and maintain their wealth for a century, from the Jacksonian period to the Roaring Twenties.

Between 1830 and 1927, as the last generation of blacks born into slavery was reaching maturity, a small group of industrious, tenacious, and daring men and women broke new ground to attain the highest levels of financial success, including:

Mary Ellen Pleasant used her Gold Rushwealth to further the cause of abolitionist John Brown.

Robert Reed Church became the largest landowner in Tennessee.

Hannah Elias, the mistress of a New York City millionaire, used the property her lover gave her to build an empire in Harlem.

Orphan and self-taught chemist Annie Turnbo Malone developed the first national brand of hair care products.

Mississippi schoolteacher O. W. Gurley developed a piece of Tulsa, Oklahoma, into a “town” for wealthy black professionals and craftsmen that would become known as “Black Wall Street.”

Although Madam C. J. Walker was given the title of America’s first female black millionaire, she was not. She was the first, however, to flaunt and openly claim her wealth—a dangerous and revolutionary act.

Nearly all the unforgettable personalities in this amazing collection were often attacked, demonized, or swindled out of their wealth. Black Fortunes illuminates as never before the birth of the black business titan.

Additional information

Weight0.5 lbs
Dimensions8 × 5.3 × 0.7 in
Book Author

Date Published

January 29, 2019









Year Published


1 review for Black Fortunes: the Story of the First Six African Americans Who Escaped Slavery and Became Million

  1. audra (verified owner)

    Black Fortunes isn’t just a book talking about the first Black millionaires. It tells the details if the lives of these people and how they thrived even in the midst of hopelessness. It’s so fascinating to see the lives of Black people we hear about so often interwoven with other Black people from that time in history. I learned so much about the history of Black cities in America, including Beale Street, which I visited several years ago. I also learned that Madam CJ Walker was NOT the first Black millionaire. Say whaaaat? Yup. This book belongs in your personal library!

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