Despite tremendous obstacles, these men and women fought for their own financial independence. From the very beginning, black Americans have struggled to make a way out of no way. Faced with rampant racism and discrimination, industrious African Americans decided to do for self, launching their own businesses and empires. In honor of Black History Month, here’s a look at some of the earliest—and most enterprising—black entrepreneurs.
Maggie Lena Walker (Wikipedia Commons); John Merrick (Wikimedia Commons); George Thomas Downing (NYPL Digital Gallery)