• Leonard Webb

Historical Black Entrepreneurs

By Samantha Williams, Managing Editor / Sr. Contributing Editor


Today, we have many examples of black successful entrepreneurs. Celebrities such as Beyoncé, Oprah, Tyler Perry, Sean Combs, and others have worked hard to maintain their success as entrepreneurs. But who paved the way for them?

Madam C.J. Walker

We have all heard about Madam C.J. Walker and the empire she built in the cosmetic and hair care industries, but what about all the other black entrepreneurs throughout history?

Clara Brown

Former slave, Clara Brown, established a successful laundry business during the gold rush and was also an avid real estate investor. Brown was noted for owning several properties throughout Colorado, including 16 lots of land in Denver alone! Brown is also known for saving over $10,000, which was a significantly large amount back in the 1800s.



Father and son team, Frederick Patterson & Charles Richard Patterson were in the automobile industry. Son, Frederick, was the first African American to manufacture cars. His father, Charles, was a co-founder of a carriage business, C.R. Patterson & Son Company. Charles eventually bought out his partner, a white man, J.P. Lowe. After Charles’ death, Frederick manufactured the Patterson-Greenfield car, which became a direct competitor to Henry Ford’sModel T.

This is just a short list of the historical black men and women who helped lay the foundation for present-day black entrepreneurs. They fought insurmountable odds, adversities, and challenges to pursue their passions and dreams. It is through their unwavering efforts that we celebrate their entrepreneurial accomplishments.

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