Robert James Harlan: Ohio’s Political Powerhouse

Robert James Harlan

TweetShareShareRobert James Harlan (1816-1897) may have been born a slave but he lived most of his life free as a bird. And this Ohio bird could sing…and travel…and succeed. Born in Virginia on December 12, 1816. Harlan’s mother was mulatto, and his father was white. Consequently, Robert’s light-skinned complexion often helped him. As a young…

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Antoine Dubuclet, Jr.: The Creole Savior of Louisiana

Antoine Debuclet

TweetShareShare He was one of America’s wealthiest Black businessmen. As a Republican State Treasurer he saved debt-ridden Louisiana following the Civil War. But his story runs counter to many of the popular narratives in Black history today. Consequently, it’s a tale that worth telling. His name is Antoine Dubuclet, Jr. (1810-1887). He was a sugar…

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Robert Gordon: The Coal Magnate of Cincinnati

Robert Gordon

TweetShareShare“I must never leave my work until I have done my best.” That was the work ethic of Robert Gordon (1812-1884), a former slave and Cincinnati Black businessman who became a millionaire dealing coal. Gordon was born into slavery sometime in 1812, near Richmond, VA. His master operated a coal yard and young Robert quickly…

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Mary Ellen Pleasant: San Francisco’s “Golden” Girl

Mary Ellen Pheasant

TweetShareShareShe was Black America’s first self-made millionaire. The most powerful woman in San Francisco’s Gold-Rush period. She was a “one-woman social agency” for emancipated Blacks. Her name was Mary Ellen Pleasant…and her legendary story is simply unbelievable. Born in 1814, we know little about Mary Ellen’s youth because she told different tales to “please her…

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William Alexander Leidesdorff, Jr.: California’s Black Millionaire Founding Father

William Alexander Leidesdorff Founding Black Father of California

TweetShareShareHis legacy is as long as his name. Known as the “African Founding Father of California” William Alexander Leidesdorff, Jr. (1810-1848) helped start San Francisco. He was America’s first Black millionaire thanks to highly lucrative businesses in shipping and lumber. And he was multi-racial…African, Cuban and Jewish.   Leidesdorff’s contributions and name are largely lost…

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Clara Brown: The Angel of the Rockies

Clara Brown

TweetShareShare“I always go where Jesus calls me.” And Clara Brown (1803? – 1885) did just that. Widely known as “Aunt Clara” or the “Angel of the Rockies,” Ms. Brown was lauded for her Christian philanthropy and community leadership in pioneering Colorado. Clara Brown is a true American hero. It’s a tale worth reading. Brown was…

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Stephen Smith: America’s First Black Business Mogul

TweetShareShareSTEPHEN SMITH (1795-1873) was born into slavery. At the tender age of five he became the indentured servant for Thomas Boude, a Pennsylvanian businessman. Smith spent his youth working the lumberyard. However, he also learned lessons from his master about business. This mentoring would make Smith rich beyond imagination. In that day, an indentured servant…

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Free Frank McWhorter: “Kind, Benevolent, and Honest”

TweetShareShareHe was a former slave and a wealthy farmer who founded his own town. And he personally purchased the freedom of over a dozen family members. His name was Frank McWhorter (1777-1854). But once Frank broke the yoke of his own slavery, he joyously added a new prefix moniker: FREE. Free Frank McWhorter…because freedom is…

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