In 1878, young Alonzo Herndon knew his sharecropping days were numbered.
Sick of laboring on land his family could never own, he ditched the fields of rural Georgia for a trade that would pay.
Not long after completing barber school, an enterprising Herndon opened THREE of the most opulent shops the city of post-Civil War Atlanta had ever witnessed.
But just as Herndon’s self-investment bore fruit, something went terribly wrong.
One of his shops was destroyed by fire. The loss couldn’t be recovered, because white-owned insurance companies denied Black people life and business coverage, believing it to be too risky.
Enraged by this, Herndon sought to protect other families from the brink of financial ruin too. Through his second entrepreneurial venture, he did just that.
He used profits from his Auburn Avenue real estate portfolio to acquire the once-failing Atlanta Life Insurance Company and used it to protect the assets of his people directly.
Herndon sold his products door-to-door, investing in the economic stability of his community, before expanding into several other states. The strategy helped him become Atlanta’s first Black millionaire.
Just like Herndon, we can preserve the economic progress made by each generation by staying invested in the businesses that serve us, finding opportunities in risk taking, and remaining connected to each other!