June 22, 2024

Black Entrepreneur History

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When Wealthy Black American Entrepreneurs Hired White Servants in the 1920s

The fact that wealthy African American entrepreneurs hired white servants and those white servants were more than willing to work for them is hardly discussed or written about in history books if at all. According to the The New York Times of 1925, in Brooklyn, there were several Black Americans who were nearly millionaires, and not only did they own their own businesses that were very lucrative but they provided employment for the white needy.

In a quote from The New York Times of 1925, “The Negro race is steadily progressing, in spite of most discouraging obstacles. There is no other race whose history shows a determination in the same degree to overcome adverse circumstances.” It is through that determination that Black Americans amassed much wealth in such a short amount of time post slavery and while laws still pushed against them.

Black Americans were so affluent in less than a century after the Emancipation Proclamation that several Negro men owned brownstones in affluent neighborhoods, rode in their own horse drawn carriages with coachmen, owned the buildings where there would be white tenants and even employed white servants, many having a liking to hiring Polish and Swedish servants more than all else, although they would also hire from their own Black American community. They stated they liked to hire the Polish and Swedish white people because they were more “tractable”, or in other words, docile and easily trained, not putting up a fuss. Therefore, Black Americans and the Polish and Swedish who needed work had a great employer employee relationship. No one was mistreated, and everyone got what they needed.

Polish people were coming to the United States in order to establish a better life for themselves, and the one thing they all needed in order to provide for their families was work. Where white Americans were more resistant to working for Black Americans, Polish people, or Poles, saw it as a great opportunity. As far as Swedish, or Swedes, many came to the USA for religious freedom and land which they were running out of in their home country. They, too, needed to find work, and the climate in Black America was a starting point.

It was also noted in The Topeka Plaindealer newspaper (1903) of Kansas that German and Irish emigrants were also hired by Black Americans because they were more willing to work for them without having the background of racial prejudice. Therefore, this practice of wealthy Black Americans hiring white servants goes further back than the 1920s, all the way to 1900 and possibly for many Black Americans who lived in the New England states, slightly further back than that.

African Americans (Black Americans), the descendants of the enslaved in the USA, baffled white Americans who believed that they could never amount to anything and confused white people who didn’t understand how they were succeeding despite all the odds against them. Black Americans wanted to fulfil their destiny, a destiny they knew they had and wanted to capture with their bare hands and drive.

Black Americans captured and are still capturing all that was kept from them in record time, more than any other ethnic group has ever done in the history of the country.

This article was researched and written by Mirika Mayo Cornelius, Akirim Press author and publisher 


The New York Times, Sun, July 14, 1895, Page17, New York, New York

The Topeka Plaindealer, Friday, March 27, 1903 Page 1, Topeka Kansas (newspaper clipping)