Black History Month: What the Life of Clara Brown Teaches Us About Business
February is Black History Month. If we were to talk about the lessons that we could learn from Black History Month, it would take us years to talk about them all. In this post, we’re going to talk about what Clara Brown, a former slave turned successful business owner and philanthropist, can teach us about business.
The Past Does Not Define the Future
Clara Brown was born in 1800 as a slave in Virginia. When she turned 18 years old, she married another slave and had children. However, the family of five was separated when they were sold to different slave owners. When Mrs. Brown was 56 years old, she was freed in the State of Kentucky. However, her freedom also meant she was required to leave the state.
Mrs. Brown worked her way west to Colorado. After she settled in Central City, Colorado, she began working as a mid-wife, a laundress, and a cook. Mrs. Brown took the money that she made and invested it into various real estate holdings, mines, and helped others in her community.
Ultimately, Mrs. Brown’s life shows us that no matter what life throws at us, we can work toward a better future.
A Well-Known Philanthropist
Mrs. Brown devoted her home and her life to making her community better. She never turned away anyone in need and her home was known for hosting religious meetings. Her charitable contributions didn’t stop once she left Colorado to look for one of her children. Mrs. Brown had done her best to find her children. She learned that her husband and two of her children had died. She had one child she could not locate, but she set out to Kentucky to find her daughter, Eliza.
Although she did not find her daughter right away, Mrs. Brown brought 16 more freed slaves from Kentucky back to Colorado. Mrs. Brown also traveled to Kansas to help former slaves establish a community and start farms. When Mrs. Brown was in her 80s, she learned that her daughter was in Iowa. She was reunited with her daughter and one granddaughter before her death in 1885.
Because of Mrs. Brown’s works of charity in Colorado, Kansas, and Kentucky, she was made a member of the Society of Colorado Pioneers. She has a permanent memorial chair in Central City’s Opera House as well as a stained glass window located at the Colorado State Capital.
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