Slavery to Millions

From Slavery to Millions

From Slavery to Millions

How Alonzo Herndon Built a Multi-Million Dollar Fortune

Born a slave in Walton County, Georgia in 1858, Alonzo Herndon died a multimillionaire around 75 years later. At the time of his death, he was the richest Black man in Atlanta. How did Mr. Herndon achieve such wealth? By believing in his abilities and using his mind to live up to his potential. Herndon made millions through creating a vision for himself and taking consistent daily action to make his vision his reality.

At the age of seven, the Civil War set Herndon and his family free. To support his family, he got a position under his grandfather working in a lumberyard. Later, he moved into harder labor by becoming a field hand. For his back breaking work, Herndon was being paid less than 60 dollars per year. During this time, he began developing his entrepreneurial spirit by selling peanuts, molasses, and other items to earn more money. It was then when he began to take pride in becoming his own boss.

After a stint of 5 years in Jonesboro as a Barber, Herndon moved to Atlanta to work under another Black barber. Within a couple of months, he bought a stake in the barbershop. Soon, Herndon expanded his barbering empire to 3 locations in Atlanta.

His shop on 66 Peachtree St. matched his opulence style by having chandeliers made with crystals, huge front doors, and gold fixtures to create one of the most lavish barbershops in the world. Herndon’s clientele benefited from his 25 chairs, 18 bathtubs, and the best barbers and bootblacks in the state.


As Herndon’s earnings increased, he began to invest in real estate to become wealthier. Having no shame in his abundant tastes, he was proud to be a capitalist in the capitalistic society of America. Eventually, through real estate and his barbering empire, Herndon became a millionaire.

By continuously searching for opportunities, Herndon stumbled on an insurance company that was struggling. Seeing the opportunity, he bought the association and was now in the insurance business. His company offered policies to Blacks at a time when it was extremely difficult for Blacks to get insurance. He saw a need and filled it!

To help grow his company, Herndon hired the brightest Black college graduates from prestigious universities utilizing their energy from their youth. He believed he could employ those of his own race while passing on the wisdom he had gained through owning businesses. In a period of six years, his company grew from one office to 84 offices and 70,000 customers by 1911. Herndon then changed the name to Atlanta Life Insurance Company which has assets of over $200 million today.

Alonzo Herndon had the vision of cooperation between Blacks to create a community of successful Black businesses. Through dreaming and envisioning a future, a person can rise from complete poverty to the upper echelons of wealth. Your dreams, goals, and visions should guide you to the promised land if you are taking consistent action everyday.

Herndon often invited young student to his mansion to discuss their visions, their goals, and their dreams. He would offer guidance, and mentorship to those who came.

When Herndon had an idea, he would take out his pen and paper and write it down immediately. He would also set aside time to think, plan, and meditate.

Use your mind and the skills you already have to earn your millions.

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