More on African-American success stories

African-American success stories

  • Joseph Randolph was President of the first African Insurance Company, formed in 1810 to support African-Americans who needed financial assistance and other benefits
  • William Leidesdorff was America’s first millionaire of African descent. Initially involved in shipping, he also opened and operated San Francisco’s first hotel. At the time of his death, his estate was valued at one and a half million dollars
  • David Ruggles was a printer and journalist who established the first African-American bookstore in New York. He was also an abolitionist and participated in the activities of the Underground Railroad, which liberated many slaves
  • Paul Cuffee was a Quaker businessman, son of a former slave and a Native American mother. Cuffee made his fortune in the shipping trade and went on to open Massachusetts’ first integrated school
  • James Forten was an active politician who made his fortune in the shipping industry. Educated as a Quaker, he made a significant contribution to the abolitionist cause
  • Booker T. Washington organized the first successful national black business association of the early twentieth century. By 1907 the National Negro Business League had 320 branches
  • Sarah Breedlove Walker, better known as Madame C. J. Walker was the first black woman to become a millionaire. She did this through the manufacture of cosmetics, achieving success by the age of forty
  • Maggie Lena Walker was the first American woman to become president of a bank. Walker also helped establish The Council of Colored (sic) Women and served on the board of the National Urban League.
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