Wills bagged a winner with Black Fortunes-The Story of the First Six African Americans Who Escaped Slavery and Became Millionaires. As the title suggests, the author portrayed the stories of six people: Mary Ellen Pleasant, Robert Church Reed, O.W. Gurley, Hannah Elias, Annie Turnbo Malone, and Madam C.J. Walker. While some are familiar with the story of Madam’s hair care empire, I believe the stories of her predecessors are just as fascinating.
What makes the book a page turner? You see the determination, ingenuity, courage, brilliance, and faith of people who despite their beginnings pursued their dreams; as a result, they amassed a fortune – enduring unspeakable circumstances. You’re engaged from beginning to end. This article discusses some of the benefits that I think any reader will gain.
Burke asserted that, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” Black Fortune packs a ton of American history. You name it – slavery, reconstruction, segregation, Jim Crow, growth of the west, the resettling of Native Americans, business, real estate, housing, government, interracial dating/relations, and you’ll find it. Furthermore, find out how the millionaires used their money to support abolitionists.
In effect, I suggest that both high school and college instructors consider making this book required reading for history or business classes. In addition to acquiring knowledge that has been kept from history books, students will draw connections between the past and present. How can you avoid repeating what you don’t know?
· Case Studies
Along with the benefit of a unique historical perspective, the book provides six amazing case studies. Despite the conditions each person unearthed a way to survive and thrive. Like many affluent African Americans today, these individuals used their prosperity to support worthy causes. Hence, their stories present lessons on building business (marketing, research, recruiting talent, business expansion, raising capital, investing, product development, community involvement, and more). Simply put, the rise of Black Wall Street merits close analysis. You’re bound to evoke a range of emotions and lively discussions.
At the same time, Black Fortunes offers insight for entrepreneurs. The trail blazers shared a keen intuitiveness as well as a knack for taking risks. Unlike many who shriek with fear in the face of adversity, this bunch searched for opportunities. Furthermore, they devised strategies to leverage products and services.
Are you an entrepreneur? If you answered in the affirmative, you need a copy. By reading a chapter or two on days when things seem impossible, you’re assured to attain understanding and encouragement.
When you look at what these six individuals endured, anyone will be inspired to live a life of purpose, especially people of color. How does someone barely out of slavery not only pull him or herself up but surpass the people who oppressed them? They had less to work with, they faced insurmountable odds, and they could not openly enjoy the fruits of their labor. In short, they proved everyone wrong by dismantling stereotypes. So, if the six individuals featured in this book achieved what they did then, today we can achieve more.
Someone said, “Anyone who tries to make a distinction between education and entertainment doesn’t know the first thing about either”. In my opinion this book makes a good movie; it teaches and inspires.
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