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.
About the Author
Shomari Wills is a journalist. He has worked for CNN and Good Morning America, and has contributed to New York Carib News and Columbia Journalism Review. He received an undergraduate degree from Morehouse College and a graduate degree from Columbia University, where he was named a Lynton Book Writing Fellow. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.